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مُساهمة  Ramy في الجمعة نوفمبر 06, 2009 11:30 am

Charles John Huffam Dickens


FRSA ( 7
February 1812 – 9 June 1870), pen-name "Boz", was the most popular English
novelist
of the Victorian era and one of the most popular of all time. He
created some of literature's most memorable characters. His novels and short
stories have never gone out of print.[1][2]
A concern with what he saw as the pressing need for social reform
is a theme that runs throughout his work.



Much
of his work first appeared in periodicals and magazines in serialised form, a favoured way of publishing fiction
at the time. Other writers of the time would complete entire novels before
serial publication commenced, but Dickens often wrote his in parts, in the
order in which they were meant to appear. The practice lent his stories a
particular rhythm, punctuated by one cliffhanger
after another to keep the public eager for the next instalment.[3]
Critics and fellow-novelists such as George Gissing
and G. K. Chesterton have applauded Dickens for his
mastery of prose, and for his teeming gallery of unique characters, many of
whom have acquired iconic status in the English-speaking world. Others such as Henry James
and Virginia Woolf
have accused him of sentimentality and implausibility.[4]



Life


Early years


Dickens
was born on 7 February 1812,
in Landport, Portsmouth, in Hampshire, the second of eight
children
to John Dickens (1786–1851), a clerk in the Navy Pay Office
at Portsmouth, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Barrow, 1789–1863).[5]
He was christened at St Mary's Church in Portsea
on 4 March 1812. When he was five, the family moved to Chatham, Kent.
In 1822, when he was ten, the family relocated to 16 Bayham Street, Camden Town,
in London.



His
early years seem to have been an idyllic time, although he thought himself then
a "very small and not-over-particularly-taken-care-of boy".[6]
He spent time outdoors, but also read voraciously, with a particular fondness
for the picaresque novels of Tobias Smollett
and Henry Fielding.
He talked, later in life, of his extremely poignant memories of childhood, and
of his continuing photographic memory of the people and events
that helped to bring his fiction to life. His family's early, moderate wealth
provided the boy Dickens with some private education at William Giles's School,
in Chatham.[7]
This time of prosperity came to an abrupt end, however, when his father spent
beyond his means in entertaining and in retaining his social position, and was
finally imprisoned at Marshalsea debtor's prison.
Shortly afterwards, the rest of his family joined him in residence at
Marshalsea, south of the Thames, (except for Charles, who boarded in Camden Town
at the house of family friend Elizabeth Roylance).[8]
Sundays became a treat, when with his sister Fanny, allowed out from the Royal Academy of Music, he spent the day at the
Marshalsea.[9]
The prison provided the setting of one of his works, Little Dorrit, and is
where the title character's father is imprisoned.



Just
before his father's arrest, 12-year-old Dickens had begun working
ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking
Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station. He earned
six shillings
a week pasting labels on jars of thick shoe polish.
This money paid for his lodgings with Mrs. Roylance and helped support his
family. Mrs. Roylance, Dickens later wrote, was "a reduced
old lady, long known to our family", and whom he eventually immortalized,
"with a few alterations and embellishments", as "Mrs.
Pipchin", in Dombey & Son. Later, lodgings were found
for him in a "back-attic...at the house of an insolvent-court agent, who
lived in Lant Street
in The Borough...he
was a fat, good-natured, kind old gentleman...lame, with a quiet old wife; and
he had a very innocent grown-up son, who was lame too"; these three were
the inspiration for the Garland family in The Old Curiosity Shop.[10]
The mostly unregulated, strenuous—and often cruel—work conditions of the
factory employees (especially children) made a deep impression on Dickens. His
experiences served to influence later fiction and essays, and were the
foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour
conditions, the rigours of which he believed were unfairly borne by the poor.[citation needed]



As
told to John Forster (from The Life of Charles
Dickens):



The
blacking-warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old
Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on
the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscoted rooms, and its
rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the
cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at
all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as
if I were there again. The counting-house was on the first floor, looking over
the coal-barges and the river. There was a recess in it, in which I was to sit
and work. My work was to cover the pots of paste-blacking; first with a piece of
oil-paper, and then with a piece of blue paper; to tie them round with a
string; and then to clip the paper close and neat, all round, until it looked
as smart as a pot of ointment from an apothecary's shop. When a certain number
of grosses of pots had attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on
each a printed label, and then go on again with more pots. Two or three other
boys were kept at similar duty down-stairs on similar wages. One of them came
up, in a ragged apron and a paper cap, on the first Monday morning, to show me
the trick of using the string and tying the knot. His name was Bob Fagin; and I
took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist.[10]



After
only a few months in Marshalsea, John Dickens was informed of the death of his
paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens, who had left him, in her will, the sum
of £450. On the expectation of this legacy, Dickens petitioned for, and was
granted, release from prison. Under the Insolvent Debtors
Act
, Dickens arranged for payment of his creditors, and he and his
family left Marshalsea for the home of Mrs. Roylance.



Although
Dickens eventually attended the Wellington
House Academy
in North London,
his mother did not immediately remove him from the boot-blacking factory. 'The
incident must have done much to confirm Dickens's determined view that a father
should rule the family, a mother find her proper sphere inside the home.
"I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that
my mother was warm for my being sent back." His mother's failure in his
eyes [at this time], requesting Charles return to the blacking factory,
contributed towards his demanding and dissatisfied attitude towards women.'[11]
Resentment stemming from his situation and the conditions under which working-class
people lived became major themes of his works, and it was this unhappy period
in his youth to which he alluded in his favourite, and most autobiographical, novel, David Copperfield:[12]
"I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no
assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I
hope to go to heaven!" The Wellington
House Academy
as it turned out was not a good school. 'Much of the haphazard, desultory
teaching, poor discipline punctuated by the headmaster's sadistic brutality,
the seedy ushers and general run-down atmosphere, are embodied in Mr. Creakle's
Establishment in David Copperfield.'[13]



In
May 1827, Dickens began work in the law office of Ellis and Blackmore,
attorneys, of Holborn Court,
Gray's Inn,
as a junior clerk.
He remained there until November 1828. Then, having worked energetically in his
spare time to acquire Gurneys system of shorthand, he left to become a
freelance reporter. A distant relative, Thomas Charlton, was a freelance
reporter at Doctors' Commons, and Dickens was able to share
his box there in order to report the legal proceedings.[14]
Here in a court near St. Paul's
he was to listen for nearly four years to rambling, involved cases. This
education informed works such as Nicholas Nickleby,
Dombey and Son,
and especially Bleak House—whose vivid portrayal of the endless machinations,
lethal manoeuvrings, and strangling bureaucracy of the legal system of
mid-19th-century Britain did much to enlighten the general public, and was a
vehicle for dissemination of Dickens's own views regarding, particularly, the
injustice of chronic exploitation of the poor forced by circumstances to
"go to Law".



In
1830, Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell. It is believed that she was
the model for the character Dora in David Copperfield. Maria's parents
disapproved of the courtship and effectively ended the relationship by sending
her to school in Paris.



Journalism and early novels


In
1833, Dickens was able to get his very first story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk,
published in the London
periodical, Monthly Magazine. The following year he rented rooms at Furnival's Inn
becoming a political journalist, reporting on parliamentary debate and
travelling across Britain by stagecoach to cover election campaigns for the Morning Chronicle.
His journalism, in the form of sketches which appeared in periodicals, formed
his first collection of pieces Sketches by Boz
which was published in 1836 and led to the serialization of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, in March 1836. He
continued to contribute to and edit journals throughout much of his subsequent
literary career. Dickens's keen perceptiveness, intimate knowledge and
understanding of the people, and tale-spinning genius were quickly to gain him
world renown and wealth.



In
1836, Dickens accepted the job of editor of Bentley's Miscellany, a position that he would
hold for three years, when he fell out with the owner. At the same time, his
success as a novelist continued, producing Oliver Twist
(1837–39), Nicholas Nickleby (1838–39), The Old Curiosity Shop and, finally, Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of
'Eighty
as part of the Master Humphrey's Clock series (1840–41)—all
published in monthly instalments before being made into books. Dickens had a
pet raven
named Grip which, when it died in 1841, Dickens had it stuffed (it is now at
the Free Library of Philadelphia).[15]



On
2 April 1836, he married Catherine Thomson
Hogarth
(1816 – 1879), the daughter of George Hogarth, editor
of the Evening Chronicle. After a brief honeymoon in Chalk, Kent,
they set up home in Bloomsbury. They had ten children:[5]





On
25 March 1837, Dickens moved with his family into 48 Doughty Street, London,
(on which he had a three year lease at £80 a year) where he would remain until
December 1839. A
new addition to the household was Dickens's younger brother Frederick. Also,
Catherine's 17 year old sister Mary moved with them from Furnival's Inn to offer support to her newly married sister and
brother-in-law. It was not unusual for a woman's unwed sister to live with and
help a newly married couple. Dickens became very attached to Mary, and she died
in his arms after a brief illness in 1837. She became a character in many of
his books, and her death is fictionalized as the death of Little Nell.[16]


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