Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol and Other Iconic Stories
Written by Santa's Quarters™
For over a century, A Christmas Carol, which tells the story of unforgettable characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, has been a cherished part of many families Christmas traditions. The writer behind this great tale, along with so many others, was Charles John Huffam Dickens. He was born on February 7, 1812, and died on June 9, 1870. He's considered one of the best novelists and storytellers of the Victorian era. Before his death, he wrote countless short stories, hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines, and fifteen novels! He also worked to make the world a better place and fought for issues like children's rights.
John Dickens and his wife, Elizabeth Barrow, welcomed their son Charles while living in Portsmouth, England. John worked as a naval pay clerk. The family had many financial issues. By the time Charles was ten, his family was living in London, and his father was in debtor's prison. Charles went to work in a shoe polish factory to help support the family. After his grandmother died, the family had enough money to pay off their debts, and his father was freed from prison. Charles could then return to school for a bit, but ultimately had to return to work to support the family. He worked in an attorney's office but didn't enjoy it. Charles became a journalist after this.
Journalism and Early Novels
At age 21, Dickens had his first fictional story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk, published. At the time, Dickens was working as a journalist covering politics. He also began writing Street Sketches for an editor named George Hogarth. Dickens would later marry Hogarth's daughter, Catherine. Dickens was hired to write stories for engraved illustrations. These became the wildly popular Pickwick Papers, which launched Dickens as a famous author both in England and abroad. Dickens worked as an editor and wrote at a breakneck pace during this period. Oliver Twist came out in 1838 and was serialized chapter by chapter weekly in newspapers. Soon, even Queen Victoria was a devoted fan of Dickens' writing, waiting each week for the next chapter in his continuing tales!
First Visit to the United States
Charles and Catherine Dickens traveled to North America for the first time in 1842. Catherine's sister, Georgina Hogarth, stayed with the couple's children and remained with the family as a caretaker for the rest of Charles Dickens' life. Dickens wrote about their journey in American Notes for General Circulation, which also included his observations on the horrors of slavery. While traveling, Dickens gave lectures and even appeared on stage. Dickens made a lot of money during the trip but did not enjoy the United States. However, his trip helped inspire one of his most enduring stories, A Christmas Carol.
Return to England
After Dickens was back in England, he began writing A Christmas Carol. After it was released in 1843, Dickens wrote two more books with Christmas themes, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. All three were popular, but A Christmas Carol became an enduring classic and even helped popularize the celebration of Christmas. Dickens spent some time in Italy and then began working on two of his most serious books, Dombey and Son and David Copperfield.
Many literary critics consider Dickens as one of the greatest creators of fictional characters to ever write in English. Perhaps only Shakespeare can outrank him. Some of his most famous characters include Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Other popular characters include Bill Sikes, Fagin, The Artful Dodger, and Oliver Twist from Oliver Twist, along with Pip and Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. These characters, along with others, like Samuel Pickwick, are so well known that people who have never read anything Dickens wrote are familiar with them.
Charles Dickens continues to be a cultural force more than 150 years after his death. Museums like the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth and the Charles Dickens Museum in London pay homage to his work. There are statues of Dickens around the world, including in Philadelphia and Australia. The Bank of England issued money bearing Dickens on the front and a drawing from The Pickwick Papers on the back from 1992 to 2003. There are schools named after him, and there was even an entire theme park called Dickens World in the United Kingdom. Dickens' works continued to be adapted as graphic novels, plays, television shows, and movies.
Charles Dickens was a prolific writer who published over a dozen novels, hundreds of short stories, plays, and even books of non-fiction. Most of Dickens' works were first printed chapter by chapter in newspapers and magazines and then released as books. His most famous works include:
The Pickwick Papers
The Old Curiosity Shop
A Christmas Carol
The Cricket on the Hearth
A Tale of Two Cities
Our Mutual Friend
Dickens's final book, Edwin Drood, hadn't been finished at the time of his death and remains incomplete.