Happy 200th birthday, Charles Dickens!
Charles Dickens was born 200 years ago today in the town of Portsmouth, England. According to Claire Tomalin's 2011 biography "Charles Dickens: A Life," his childhood home was happy and comfortable, but his father tended to live beyond his means, and the family was uprooted more than once. On the worst of these occasions, 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a boot-black factory. He didn't like it. But it became material -- there was a boy there named Fagin, a name that will ring familiar to readers of "Oliver Twist."
Dickens was remarkable in that he created characters and stories that have become permanent fixtures in our cultural landscape. How many times has "A Christmas Carol" been adapted for stage, film, or sitcom holiday episodes? Too many for me to count. But that lasting cultural presence is paired with something else that sets Dickens the writer apart: He was stunningly prolific.
During the three years he worked full time as editor of the magazine Bentley's Miscellany, for example, he wrote and published two books -- no less than "The Adventures of Oliver Twist" and "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby." By the time of his death in 1870 at age 58, he'd written 14 hefty novels ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was published posthumously) and many other works.
To celebrate Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, then, here is a list of his published works.
Charles Dickens' novels:
The Pickwick Papers
The Adventures of Oliver Twist
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
The Old Curiosity Shop
Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty'
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
Dombey and Son
Hard Times: For These Times
A Tale of Two Cities
Our Mutual Friend
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
It continues after the jump.
A Christmas Carol
The Cricket on the Hearth
The Battle of Life
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
Some of Charles Dickens' nonfiction, poetry and plays:
The Village Coquettes
The Fine Old English Gentleman
Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi
American Notes: For General Circulation
Pictures from Italy
The Life of Our Lord: As written for his children
A Child's History of England
The Frozen Deep
Speeches, Letters and Sayings
Because his work is in the public domain, it can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg. And learn more about Charles Dickens' life and work with this excerpt from Claire Tomalin's biography and this selection of items at the Ransom Center from its Dickens collection (which does not include the cat paw letter opener -- that's at the N.Y. Public Library).
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Charles Dickens. Credit: Public domain