Great Expectations

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Charles Dickens, Charles John Huffam Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Ports Mouth, Hampshire. In his infancy his family moved to Chatham, where he spent his happiest years and often refers to this time in his novels (1817-1822). From 1822 to 1860 he lived in London, after which he permanently moved to a quiet country cottage in Glads Hill, on the outskirts of Chatham. He grew up in a middle class family.
His father was a clerk in the navy pay office and was well paid, but his extravagant living style often brought the family to financial disaster. The family reached financial rock bottom in 1824. Charles was taken out of school and sent to work in a factory doing manual labour, while his father went to prison for his debt. These internal disasters shocked Charles greatly. He refers to his working experiences in his writings. Although he hated doing labour, he gained a sympathetic knowledge into the life of the labour class. He also brings forth the images of prison and of the lost and oppressed child in many novels. His schooling ended at 15, and he became a clerk in a solicitors office, then a short hand reporter in the lawcourts (where he gained much knowledge of legalities which he used in his novels), and finally like other members of his family, a newspaper reporter. Here, he got his first taste of journalism and fell in love with it immediately. Drawn to the theatre, Charles Dickens almost pursued the career of an actor. In 1833, he began sending short stories and descriptive essays to small magazines and newspapers. These writings attracted attention and were published in 1836 under the name, Sketches by Boz. At the same time, he was offered a small job of writing the text for a small comic strip, where he worked with a well know artist. Seven weeks later, the first instalment of The Pickwick Papers appeared. Within a few months Pickwick was the rage and Dickens was the most popular author of the day. During 1836, he also wrote two plays and a pamphlet, he then resigned from his newspaper job, and undertook the editing job of a monthly magazine, Bentleys Miscellany, in which he serialized Oliver Twist (1837-1839). By this time, the first of his nine surviving children had been born. He had married Catherine, eldest daughter of a respected journalist George Hogorth (April 1836). His first major success was with The Pickwick Papers. They were high spirited and contained many conventional comic butts and jokes. Pickwick displayed, many of the features that were to be blended in to his future fiction works; attacks on social evils and the delight in the joys of Christmas. Rapidly thought up and written in mere weeks or even days before its publication date, Pickwick contained weak style and was unsatisfactory in all, partly because Dickens was rapidly developing his craft as a novelist while doing it. This style of writing in a first novel, made his name know literally overnight, but created a new tradition of ...


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