Today is a significant day in history. Today we celebrate a legend. An author who’s works have been read, heard, or seen in either play or movie, by nearly everyone. If you look at the Google logo for today, you might get a clue. Two hundred years ago today, on February 7th, 1812, Charles John Huffam Dickens was born. He was the second of eight children born to John and Elizabeth Dickens. As a small boy he was a voracious reader (a common affliction of most, if not all writers).
If you have ever read David Copperfield, you know a bit about Dicken’s life. It is said to be the closest to an autobiography of all his works, although many of his characters in many of his stories were taken from his own experiences and the people he knew.
At the age of twelve his father was sent to debtor’s prison and Charles was sent to live with a family friend, and later in the back attic of a court agent. He was forced to leave school and work ten hour days in a blacking factory to pay his room and board, and to help his family.
This harsh existence at such a young age had a lasting impression on Charles, and became the mainstay of his writing. He often wrote about the terrible conditions of the poor and orphaned.
Later he was quoted on how he wondered how he could be cast away at such a young age. He also mentioned how no one was around to give him any help. It is obvious by his stories, that these experiences left an indelible mark on the man.
Although a bequeath from the passing of his paternal grandmother released his father from prison, Charles was not immediately sent for by his mother, and was forced to continue to work in the boot-blacking factory. He was eventually able to go to school, although it too was anything but a good experience. The school was run down, and the headmaster brutal. At the age of fifteen he was again forced to leave school (his father was arrested, and his family in need, often throughout his life) and went to work in a law office as a junior clerk, and a year later became a freelance reporter and reported legal proceedings for four years.
In 1833, at the age of 21, Dicken’s first story ‘A Dinner at Poplar Walk’ was published in a monthly periodical. He continued to write short serial sketches which became his first collection of work titled ‘Sketches by Boz’ published in 1836, and then led to his first novel ‘The Pickwick Papers’ in March of 1836. And so began the career of a legendary author.
So today we celebrate the life of a literary great, and next week I’ll tell you just why this little old author (meaning me) has an interest, and possibly a connection with this often downtrodden yet brilliant man!
Happy Birthday Charles!