Thursday, February 7, 2013
Charles Dickens, prolific and preeminent author of the Victorian era, was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England. Despite early poverty and very little education, he wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction pieces, nearly all marked by humor, complex plots, colorful characters with astounding names, and sharp observation of society. His fame began with the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers (1836). His second novel, Oliver Twist (1839), fiercely criticized the poverty, crime and social stratification of Victorian society. After separating from his wife in 1858 and conducting lucrative reading tours, he wrote A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861). Novelist Virginia Woolf observed that Dickens’ great power lies in "characters who exist not in detail, not accurately or exactly, but abundantly in a cluster of wild yet extraordinarily revealing remarks."