Charles Dickens di Elisa Armellino


The popular Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens [I2] [I3] [E1] was born in Portsmouth in 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Office and had several financial problems during his life [E2] [E3] [E4] [F1] [S1], which was difficult for all his family.

In 1822, they all moved to London and, when the writer was only twelve years old, his father was imprisoned for debt. Therefore, Charles had to begin working in a factory and his experiences there became part of many of his literary works [F1] [F2] [I1], particularly of his autobiographical novel David Copperfield (1849-1850).

Though it was impossible for Charles to attend regular studies because of his difficulties in coping with basic needs, he read voraciously many books, like those written by one of his favourite authors, Henry Fielding and Cervantes.

After finding a job as an office boy, Charles quickly progressed in his career becoming a reporter of debates in the Houses of Parliament for a London [E2] [E3] [S1] journal. The pen-name with which he signed his articles was ‘Boz’.

A publisher was so impressed by his talented writing that he asked him to write humorous texts to accompany a series of sporting prints. The resulting was The Pickwick Papers first appeared monthly and then was published in a single volume in 1837. Thanks to the great success of this work, Charles Dickens became very well know and very apreciated as a writer.

In 1836, he married and the first of his ten children was born the following year. Thanks to his better social position and to his popularity, Dickens began to dedicate most of his time to writing, as the astonishing quantity of his literary production demonstrates. Between 1837 and 1843 he wrote Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and A Christmas Carol [S1] [F1] [I2].

In 1842, Dickens toured America to give public speakings about his works but also about important social issues (he was in favour of the abolition of slavery [I1] [E2] [E3]). When the author wrote some very critical texts on American society –American Notes (1842) and Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1844) – much resentment was felt towards him by his former admirers in the Usa.

From 1844 and 1846, Dickens travelled and resided in Italy, Switzerland and France. In the novels written in the 1850s, much attention towards social problems can be perceived: David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities.

He also found newspapers and a theatrical company and he became involved in charity work. His personal life was not happy and his marriage failed, ending in a separation in 1858. Other works he published in the years 1861-1867 were Great Expectations (1860-1861) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865).

When he has his first stroke, he cancelled some of his readings and began one more novel which, however, was never completed. In June 1870, he died of a stroke at the age of fifty-eight.



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