Charles Dickens

During his lifetime, Charles Dickens wrote 14-and-a-half novels, four million words and 14,000 letters. His stories were some of the most popular Britain had ever seen, and their characters burst into life from every corner of society. Miss Havisham is a fading, broken echo of the upper classes, Scrooge an indictment of the selfish, self-made man, and Oliver Twist an orphan whose fortunes are transformed. More than 200 years after Dickens was born, why does the author still captivate us?

Legacy

Dickens is one of Britain’s most famous writers, and since they were first published his stories have never been out of print. His name has even inspired its own adjective: “Dickensian”. Why is this one man still so influential?

Poverty

John Dickens spent time in prison for not paying his debts, and his son Charles was forced to work in a blacking factory as a child. Although he later made his fortunes through writing, the harrowing experience of poverty was never far from the heart of his works.

Characters

From brave, long-suffering heroes to evil, scheming villains — the novels of Charles Dickens are bursting with memorable characters. Here are some fascinating real-life characters of the 21st century.

Children

Dickens “takes children seriously” says his biographer Claire Tomalin — this is one of the reasons why his novels have remained so popular. How do we treat children now?

Victorian Britain

An industrial revolution, a vast empire and a strong queen: the Victorian era didn’t just shape Britain, it shaped the world. Dickens played a large part in mythologising the reign for future generations. So how do we remember those years now?