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Author Study: Charles Dickens Curated by Naomi LaDine '17

A page dedicated to Charles Dickens, the great Victorian writer, including Dickens' personal life, historical context, works, criticisms, and literary style

Timeline

The following timeline tracks important events in Dickens' life and events which heavily influenced his writing, as well as publication times for each of his major works.

1812:            Dickens born in Portsmouth

1824:            Dickens’ father is imprisoned; he is pulled out of school and sent to work in the factory

1827:            Began work as a clerk

1830:            Dickens falls in love with Maria Beadnell

1833:            First sketch “Dinner at Poplar Walk” is published in a monthly magazine

1836-7:         The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club installations published

1836:            Dickens marries Katherine Hogarth

1837:            First child, Charley, born

1837:            Sister-in-law Mary dies in Charles’s arms

1837-9:         Oliver Twist

1838-9:         The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

1840-1:         The Old Curiosity Shop

1841:            Barnaby Rudge

1842:            First visit to America

1843:            A Christmas Carol

1843-4:         Martin Chuzzlewit

1846-8:         Dombey and Son

1849-50:      David Copperfield

1852-3:         Bleak House

1854:            Hard Times

1855:            Dickens reunites with Maria Winter (Maria Beadnell)

1856:            Dickens’ income allows him to buy his dream home Gad’s Hill

1856:            Little Dorrit

1857:            Dickens falls for Ellen Ternan

1858:            Dickens separates from his wife

1858:            Dickens begins his first major reading tour

1859:            A Tale of Two Cities

1860:            Dickens burns all his personal correspondences

1860-61:      Great Expectations

1865:            Staplehurst Railway Crash

1865:            Our Mutual Friend

1866:            Dickens begins his second major reading tour

1868:            Dickens begins his “Farewell Readings” tour

1870:            Begins the Mystery of Edwin Drood

1870:            Dickens dies from a stroke

1939:            Dickens’ relationship with Ellen Ternan revealed

 

Synopses

Great Expectation

The story of an orphan boy named Pip, raised on the mysterious marshes of the English countryside as a simple blacksmith’s apprentice. However, his strange childhood encounters with a criminal on the run, a broken-hearted old woman, and a beautiful girl named Estella destine him to be much more than just a common boy. Great Expectations is the story of how an unexpected fortune answered all of Pip’s dreams, but threatened to unravel his life.

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities is a story of past love and past demons being recalled to life. Beautiful and innocent Lucie Manette is reunited with her father in England after he suffers 20 years of imprisonment in the famous French Bastille prison. While Lucie tries to build a happy life with her father and the man she loves, the peasants of Saint Antoine, starved and beaten for so long, are plotting a revolution. The shadow of the guillotine will soon fall on Paris, and not even the happy family in London is safe.

David Copperfield

As a young boy, David Copperfield’s happy life is torn from him. From beatings at school to begging on the street, David must make his own way for himself. Eventually taken in by his aunt, David is able to reconstruct his life, but as he pursues a career as a writer, and a marriage with the girl of his dreams, the shadows of David’s past reappear. They show themselves in a mysterious death, in the betrayal of his best friend, in the stormy seas, and most of all, in the lies of his ominous childhood acquaintance, Uriah Heep. David Copperfield was Dickens’ personal favorite, and is the most autobiographical of all his novels.