Charles Dickens


Charles Dickens


When Charles Dickens moved into Tavistock House, he made sure that every detail of it was to his taste. One of the features he installed was a hidden door to his study, made to look like part of an unbroken wall of books, complete with dummy shelves and fictitious titles. Dickens clearly derived much amusement from the invention of titles for these volumes. They ranged from the purely facetious—Five Minutes in China, three volumes, and Heaviside’s Conversations with Nobody—to straight puns, such as The Gunpowder Magazine. In later years he added Cat’s Lives (nine volumes) and The Wisdom of Our Ancestors, which consisted of volumes on ignorance, superstition, the block, the stake, the rack, dirt, and disease. The companion—The Virtues of Our Ancestors—was so narrow the title had to be printed sideways.


Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.

~Charles Dickens

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Biographical Note: 

Charles Dickens was an English novelist. He achieved recognition and financial security with the success of The Pickwick Papers (1836-37), in which his genius for comic characterization was fully displayed. His greatest works, which include Oliver Twist (1837-38), Barnaby Rudge (1841), Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44), David Copperfield (1849-50), Bleak House (1852-53), Little Dorrit (1857-58), and Great Expectations (1860-61), combine intense vitality and wide-ranging comedy with penetrating criticism of social abuses and human folly. His public readings from his works were enormously popular.

During his lifetime he viewed situations on the streets and wrote about real-life situations of the poor people of London. His stories and novels were usually published in magazines only a chapter at a time, as an on-going saga. Stories such as Oliver Twist encouraged people to push Parliment to change laws to protect the poor, and to protect children from working long hours with little food.