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The Life and Times of Author Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is one of the greatest English writers that ever lived. There is no other writer so well known and widely read. Many people loved him and this was shown by his sold-out performances. An endless amount of people mourned his death.

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, at Landport near the city of Portsmouth, England. His father John was friendly and well-read. He was a devoted parent. John worked as a clerk in a Navy Pay Office and was paid fairly well. The only problem was he spent so much, their family was always on the brink of poverty. Charles had very loving parents. They had eight children altogether (Haines 7).

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Charles was a bright, active child who was full of imagination. His mother taught him to read when he was very young. Charles would read books by the hour. He wanted to go to school but his family could not afford it. Charles ended up doing housework and running errands. Charles, who loved reading, writing, and studying, was very disappointed. Not only did he have to run errands, at the age of twelve, but Charles also had to work as a potboy in Warren’s Blacking Factory.

He worked from eight in the morning to eight in the evening. His father ended up not paying his debts and going to jail for them. He never paid them off until his mother died and left him money. With this, Charles was sent to the Wellington House Academy, where he did very well. The worst for Charles as a child was over (Haines 18).

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When he left the Academy at age fifteen, he went to work as a clerk and messenger boy in a lawyer’s office in London. After he taught himself shorthand, he left his job and became a free-lance shorthand reporter. Doing this job he had to go to Doctors Commons buildings every day and write down everything that was said.

During this time he met Maria Beadnell. Charles fell in love with her. He went to her house as often as he could. The Beadnell’s did not want Charles as a future son-in-law. Maria did not love Charles anyway. She only played with his affections. Charles waited three years until he realized she did not love him.

Her parents forbade Charles from seeing her and sent her to school in Paris. He sent her one last letter stating his passion and love for her, but she ended it. Shortly after he wrote that letter he became well known in England. Maria heard of this and wrote him a letter. Charles recognized her handwriting after twenty-two years. They decided to meet and Charles saw how much she change. He did not like the new Marie and told her he could not see her anymore (Haines 25).

As a shorthand reported Charles heard of everything that was going on in England. Such as, how slow laws took to get passed. Charles decided that something must be done to wake up the country. He wanted to speak out on behalf of the miserable people. He felt sympathy spontaneously for other. Charles was determined to put his deepest emotions into fiction, rather than into his everyday life. He started his writing by putting a manuscript in the mailbox to Monthly Magazine. The manuscript “A Dinner at Poplar Walk” was published.

Charles was soon given a job as a parliamentary reporter with Monthly Chronicle, a major newspaper. His sketches were good and he contributed several of them to Evening Chronicle. The editor was George Hogarth who invited Charles to his home many times. There he met Hogarth’s daughter, Catherine. Soon after the Evening Chronicle, Charles began writing captions to go with pictures for a new publishing firm, Chapman & Hall. Charles wrote a story called “Pickwick” to go with the pictures and sold forty thousand copies. He became famous for his writings of “Pickwick”. Charles wrote many more novels and some pieces for theater that became very famous (Haines 29).

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On April 2, 1836, Charles marries Catherine. Two years later their first son is born. Their family consisted of not only Charles, Catherine, and their boy, but also Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister. Mary died from a seizure shortly. Charles continued working. On March 6, 1838, he had his second child. At this time he had just written “Nichola Nickleby” a popular favorite. His third child was born in October 1839.

At one point Charles decided to take a trip to America. Charles and Catherine sailed for America on January 4, 1842. They traveled around America looking to make money. They met many famous politicians and statesmen and visited many different places there. Charles went home to write about his trip. His book “American Notes” did not sell very well. The whole trip ended in disappointment.

Charles took a second trip to America and stayed there for one hundred and fifty-five days. He gave seventy-six readings and had little rest in between. Every two days he would give another reading. He put every bit of mental and physical energy into his performance. When he got back to England in May 1868, his health was shattered. Once home he had to take on the All the Year Round Magazine. Charles had his son help out, but it was still hard work.

Charles went on tours of his readings as his health got even worse. After his left leg went lame and his left arm was paralyzed he decided he could not go on. He wanted to do twelve more readings in London before he had to stop because of his health. He began these readings on January 11, 1870. He was exhausted and in pain during these readings. On the final evening, March 15, 1870, there were two thousand people present to hear Charles Dickens. He finished his last reading in triumph. He began writing a novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, but only wrote half of it before he died.

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Charles Dickens died June 8, 1870 on his sofa, a few minutes after six in the evening. They buried him at Westminster Abby on June 14. Only four of his children and a few others were at the funeral. His grave was not finally closed until three days after the funeral. During that time an unending amount of people came to his coffin. Great mounds of flowers heaped up around him. At midnight on June 16, 1870, his tomb was sealed.

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