Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Who was Charles Dickens? What are his main works?

Charles Dickens was an English author, who wrote historical novels and romances.


Dickens was born in 1812. During his early education he read works by Fielding and Defoe, who were important for his future works. In 1823 his family moved to the suburbs of London. His family was always in debt, so, when his father was arrested because of them, Charles had to leave school to work in a factory to help his family. After two years they inherited some money, so he was able to return to his studies. At fifteen he began to work in a lawyer’s office, and then became a parliamentary reporter and a journalist. He began his literary career in 1836, and continued it till his death. Dickens visited America in 1842 and in 1867; during these trips, he obtained a huge success from public readings of his works. He died in 1870.


Dickens is the most representative author of the Victorian Novel; he was very popular in his age and after. The structure of the novels is influenced by the fact that they were published in serial form (often in magazines), so each episode is complete in itself.  One important feature of his novels is the element of humour, which can be found in the characterization and in dialogues. Sometimes the humour is mingled with pathos, sometimes it is so exaggerated that it results grotesque.

Dickens pictures the life of British people, their homes, the school system, their workplace, describing the lower and middle-class subjects. His characters come from the observation of the world around him, and from his childhood. They are a wide range of unique individuals, sometimes exaggerated or grotesque; they’re observed for their external qualities, not for their inner side, and this is the reason why they often lack any psychological insight.  

Some of Dickens novels are defined social or humanitarian; that’s why he used fiction to denounce the vices of his age. He exposed the brutality of the school system, the criminal word, the dirt of London slums during the industrial expansion

Main works

Dickens mainly wrote novels. His most famous works are:

  • A Tale of Two Cities (1859), set during the French Revolution
  • A Christmas Carol (1843) a sentimental novel, which tells a ghost story set in the Christmas period
  • David Copperfield (1849), his best-known novel, full of autobiographical elements;
  • Oliver Twist (1937-1838), a social novel (or humanitarian novel) which tells the story of an orphan boy. The novel denounces the workhouse system and the degradation of the living conditions for poor people.
  • Hard Times (1854) another social novel, which denounces the conditions in which industrial workers live.
  • Great Expectations (1860-1861) about the dramatic experiences of a young boy during his growing up.

This was Chares Dickens!😉

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