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Charles Dickens was born on Friday, February 7, 1812 at No. 1 Mile End Terrace, Landport, Portsmouth. His father, John Dickens, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office. In 1814 John was transferred to Somerset House in London. In 1817 John moved his family to Chatham and worked in the naval dockyard. It was here, at Chatham in the Medway Valley, that Charles experienced his happiest childhood memories. John was transferred back to the London office and moved his family to Camden Town in 1822. John Dickens, continually living beyond his means, was imprisoned for debt at the Marshalsea debtor's prison in Southwark in 1824. 12 year old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory earning six shillings a week to help support the family. Charles considered this period to be the most terrible time in his life and would later write that he wondered 'how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age'. This childhood poverty and feelings of abandonment, although unknown to his readers until after his death, would be a heavy influence on Dickens' later views on social reform and the world he would create through his fiction.
In 1814 Dickens moved to London, and then to Chatham, where he received some education. He worked in a blacking factory, Hungerford Market, London, while his family was in Marshalea debtor's prison in 1824 - later this period found its way to the novel Little Dorrit (1855-57). In 1824-27 Dickens studied at Wellington House Academy, London, and at Mr. Dawson's school in 1827. From 1827 to 1828 he was a law office clerk, and then worked as a shorthand reporter at Doctor's Commons. He wrote for True Son (1830-32), Mirror of Parliament (1832-34) and the Morning Chronicle (1834-36). He was in the 1830s a contributor to Monthly Magazine, and The Evening Chronicle and edited Bentley's Miscellany. In the 1840s Dickens founded Master Humphrey's Cloak and edited the London Daily News. These years as a journalist left Dickens with lasting affection for journalism and suspicious attitude towards unjust laws. His sharp ear for conversation helped him reveal characters through their own words. Dickens's career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays to appeared in periodical.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1860-61), the story of Pip (Philip Pirrip), was among Tolstoy's and Dostoyevsky's favorite novels. The unfinished mystery novel THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD was published in 1870. From the 1840s Dickens spent much time travelling and campaigning against many of the social evils of his time. In addition he gave talks and reading, wrote pamphlets, plays, and letters. In the 1850s Dickens was founding editor of Household World and its successor All the Year Round (1859-70). In 1844-45 he lived in Italy, Switzerland and Paris. He gave lecturing tours in Britain and the United States in 1858-68. From 1860 Dickens lived at Gadshill Place, near Rochester, Kent. He died at Gadshill on June 9, 1870. Although Dickens's career as a novelist received much attention, he produced hundreds of essays and edited and rewrote hundreds of others submitted to the various periodicals he edited. Dickens distinguished himself as an essayis in 1834 under the pseudonym Boz. 'A Visit to Newgate' (1836) reflects his own memories of visiting his own family in the Marshalea Prison. In 'A Small Star in in the East' reveals the working conditions on mills and 'Mr. Barlow' (1869) draws a portrait of a unsensitive tutor.
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