Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer who was unprecedentedly popular. Many of his books are still enjoyed today.
Dickens was born in Portsmouth, UK, and moved several times during his childhood. At twelve, his father was imprisoned in a debtor’s prison, and he was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days in a blacking warehouse. When his father was freed, he returned to school and afterwards took work at a law office.
He left that work after a year to become a freelance reporter under the tutelage of a distant relative who already had a journalism career reporting legal procedures. By 20, Dickens had begun to act on stage, and then he turned his hand to short story writing. His family secured him a position working for a paper in the House of Commons, and he continued to write legal journalism pieces and humorous short stories until he was commissioned to write a novel.
Charles Dickens’ novels were so popular, they are considered the first example of ‘mass culture’. Not only were his novels highly in-demand, but they elevated him to the status of a public figure. He toured the United States, influenced political thinking, produced plays, and held immensely popular reading tours.
He was married and had ten children with his wife before they separated. They never divorced.
Over the last three years of his life, his health declined slowly. It ended with a stroke at his mistress’ house. He was buried in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.
During his lifetime, Dickens wrote dozens of novels and short stories. Many remain popular today.