Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. In his 58 years he went from a hardscrabble childhood to a world-famous author, beloved and admired for his unforgettable characters, his powers of observation and empathy, and his championing of the lower classes. He wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of articles and short stories – and also found time to edit a weekly periodical for over 20 years. But that wasn’t all: he also wrote thousands of pages of letters, ran a sizable household, was a tireless reformer, a philanthropist, an amateur theatrical performer, a lecturer, and a traveler, and at times walked 14 miles a day. And he had secrets in his personal life that are still being unearthed today.
How on earth did he get all this done? How was he viewed by his contemporaries? And what do we make of his novels – and his life – today?
For more on Dickens’ classic work A Christmas Carol, try Episode 72 – Top 10 Christmas Stories
For a look at the sentimental in fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)
Does Dickens make you hungry? We explore the phenomenon in Episode 144 – Food in Literature (with Ronica Dhar)
What was Dickens’s favorite book? Find out in Episode 41 – The New Testament (with Professor Kyle Keefer)
Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to email@example.com.
3 thoughts on “The History of Literature #153 – Charles Dickens”
I didn’t have the patience for Dickens, and had started and given up reading Tale Of Two Cities until my senior year of high school, when a teacher opened me up to discovering it. Now he remains my favourite author of fiction. He really did include a lot of extras I could imagine trimming from it. But that doesn’t seem to matter, the whole package being something good.
The last of the podcast was inspiring. Maybe it is okay for someone to toss their gift into the world bank of creativity, even if they have not lived up to what they had intended .
Glad you enjoyed the episode! And I’m so glad to know you’ve taken pleasure in Dickens. He’s like an old friend.
Thank you for your reply. Dickens and Dickinson and Millay are my oldest friends. Cheers.