Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens was an English novelist and one of the most popular writers in the history of

literature. He was born on February 7, 1812, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. John

Dickens was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office. He had a poor head for finances, and in 1824

found himself imprisoned for debt. His wife and children, with the exception of Charles, who

was put to work at Warren's Blacking Factory, joined him in the Marshalsea Prison. When the

family finances were put at least partly to rights and his father was released, the

twelve-year-old Dickens, already scarred psychologically by the experience, was further

wounded by his mother's insistence that he continue to work at the factory. His father,

however, rescued him from that fate, and between 1824 and 1827 Dickens was a day pupil at a

school in London. At fifteen, he found employment as an office boy at an attorney's, while he

studied shorthand at night.

His brief stint at the Blacking Factory haunted him all of his life --

he spoke of it only to his wife and to his closest friend, John Forster -- but the dark secret

became a source both of creative energy themes of alienation and betrayal which would

emerge, most notably, in David Copperfield. In 1892 he became a free-lance reporter at

Doctor's Commons Courts, and in 1830 he met and fell in love with Maria Beadnell, the

daughter of a banker. By 1832 he had become a very successful shorthand reporter of

Parliamentary debates in the House of reporter for a newspaper. In 1833 his relationship with

Maria Beadnell ended, probable because her parents did not think him a good match. Dickens

subsequently maintained his fame with a constant stream of novels. A man of enormous energy...