Charles Dickens. The Man, the Myth (1812-1870).
years... Charles John Huffam
Dickens was born on the 7th Feb. 1812 in a small terrace house in Portsea,
small and often sickly, Charles then moved with the family as fathers
work as a naval clerk, took them next to live in Chatham, Kent (another
famous Royal Navy base).
family friend took the young CHARLES TO THE THEATRE in which he greatly
when Charles was 11/12 saw Charles and family follow father (who was recalled
to Somerset House in London) to the new family home in Bayham Street,
Camden Town, London.
Young Charles had not lost interest in reading and writing and with the help of his Uncle Barrow, who lived above a bookshop, he was given a steady source of reading material. Once again he ventured to write and wrote a description of his uncle Barrow's barber.
Mrs Dickens, Charles' mother, tried in vain to help her husband's financial
situation by setting up a school called Mrs Dickens's Establishment in
Gower Street London but no pupils materialized. But in the end her husband
John was arrested for unpaid debts and sent to the well known debtors
prison in Marshalsea Road, The Borough, near London Bridge in south London
(later described and explored fully with much pathos by Dickens in 'Little
All the family belongings, including books and furniture, were sold to the pawnbroker's and Charles was obliged to take humble work of mere drudgery but he was still busy observing characters that later became central to his stories. The whole family decided to move into the debtors prison for a time and this provided a better standard of living than the previous strained circumstance.
all but father moved out to a boarding house in Camden Town, north London.
The Landlady of this Boarding House was a Mrs. Roylance ('Dombey and Son's'
Eventually Charles found separate accommodation but closer to father in the debtors prison. Here Charles noted a family to feature in yet another book as 'the Garlands' in his 'Old Curiosity Shop'.
elder Dickens' eventually decided to take the benefit of the Insolvency
Debtors Act and that is when Father John left prison to join his wife
and children in Camden with Mrs Roylance. Charles joined them, and the
family was at last close together again. This experience of being behind
the prison walls was drawn upon for his books 'Pickwick' and 'David Copperfield'.
amazing faculties of observation and memory are proved by the use made
of all that he had witnessed, especially in the prison scenes of 'Pickwick'
and in the earlier part of 'David Copperfield'. That he suffered severely
is proven by the unusual bitterness shown in his own narrative printed
by Forster. He felt degraded by his humble occupation in a blacking warehouse
especially when compared to his sisters prizewinning at the royal academy
of music. He was ashamed of his status compared to hers but not begrudging
1824 the family received a legacy which paid off their debts and John
was able to find work as a reporter for The Morning Chronicle.
Two years later aged 15/16 Charles left school to take a position as clerk
in the office of Mr. Molloy Lincoln's Inn. With the new job came the inspiration
to start reading again and he regularly visited the British Museum where
he studied short hand writing later described in 'David Copperfield'.
Charles's ambition lead him to become a House of Commons reporter for the 'True Sun'. This job lead him to become the spokesman for all the Commons reporters for a strike. This strike was successful and Charles grew in confidence and took the position of reporter for the 'Mirror of Parliament' and the 'Morning Chronicle'.
With so much ambition still unfulfilled he decided to apply to become an actor. Mr. George Bartley (manager of Covent Garden) seems to have accidentally misplaced his application and Charles finally abandoned this path.
Charles started to become renown for his reporting abilities and the Morning Stars editor John Black became a good and close friend. Charles was soon given the opportunity to write in the periodicals and so was born the first of his published articles 'A Dinner at Popular Walk'.
articles later his pseudonym 'Boz' was finally added as a signature. From
this point onwards his life is well chronicled by his literary works which
are as follows:
Click HERE for:- Charles Dickens - A Bibliography
Copyright © Ivan Golden. 2014. All rights reserved.