Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Classics Challenge: Charles Dickens

"The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again." ~ Charles Dickens

Next up on our Classics Challenge is the equally famous as his predecessors, Charles Dickens. If you like a guy with crazy hair and a penchant for writing confusing (read satirical) stories, Mr. Dickens is your man!


I'll just let you sink in this hairstyle for a moment...

Ahem. Moving on.

Charles Dickens was a hard-working, creative, and determined man. At the age of twelve, Dickens' father was thrown into debtor's prison. His family moved to be close to his father and in order to pay for board and help support his family, Dickens was forced to quit school. He found employment at Warren's Blacking Warehouse. Dickens worked ten hour days for six shillings, pasting labels onto pots of boot blacking. His experience here would forever color his future literary pursuits (i.e. Oliver Twist).

Dickens' early writings involved short stories and political journalism. His first full-length novel was The Pickwick Papers, though at the time it was published in an episodic format. It was between Episode 1 and Episode 2 that Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth. The couple went on to have ten children.

Many works are credited to Dickens' hand. Some of his famous works are A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and Little Dorrit.

Dickens separated from his wife, Catherine, after beginning an affair with 18-year-old actress Ellen Ternan (he was 45 at the time). The Dickens children were given to Catherine's sister Georgia, save for the one Catherine took with her.

On June 8, 1870, Dickens died of a stroke. Against his wishes for a simple funeral he was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.


Writerly Things to Learn from Charles Dickens

1. Use your life to inspire you. Dickens' life heavily influenced his works. His time employed at the boot blacking factory is alluded to in Oliver Twist. People in his life are echoed in his works as characters. For example, Elizabeth Roylance, the woman with whom the Dickens family boarded with, is immortalized in print as Mrs. Pipchin in Dombey and Son.

2. Interacting with your audience is vital. After separating from his wife, Dickens embarked on reading tour after reading tour. His first reading tour involved 129 appearances in 49 towns throughout England, Ireland, and Scotland.




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