Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942. Hornback, Bert G. Great Expectations: A Novel of Friendship. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.
Biographical Summary Charles Dickens is one of the most influential writers in history and was “born in Landport, now part of Portsmouth, on February 7th, 1812”(Priestly 5). Despite being the successful writer that he was in life, Dickens had very humble beginnings and because his Father, John Huffman Dickens, “lacked the money to support his family adequetly” , Dickens lived in poverty through out most of his childhood (Collins). Matters only got worse, however, when Dickens’s Father had to “spen[d] time in prison for debt” causing Dickens to have to “work in a London factory pasting labels on bottles of shoe polish” (Collins). It was a horrible experience for him, but it also helped him to no doubt feel pity for the poor, which is prominent in his novel Oliver Twist with his sympathizing with the down trod characters in their sad conditions and the mocking of the people and rules that put them there. It should also be noted that in Oliver Twist most of the poor characters that the reader is supposed to sympathize with are young boys, such as the character Oliver Twist and young Dick, which demonstrates how most experiences and events that Dickens characters go through are very similar to his own, making his writing seem more real and genuine at times.
Tomlin, R.W.F., ed. Charles Dickens 1812-1870. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969.
117-163. Wall, Stephan. “The Letters of Charles Dickens, 1856-1858.” Essays in Criticism 47.1 (1997): 78-87. Wills, Garry. “Love in the lower depths.” The New York Review of Books 26 Oct 1989: 60-68.
New York: Pocket, 2007. 603-44. Print. Landow, George P. "Characterization in Dickens." Victorian Web.
He did not merely overcome his past, he triumphed over it by incorporating it into best-selling works of art. Drawing on these events not only provided a cathartic release from childhood traumas, it also modernized the classic rags-to-riches success story. When comparing Dickens' childhood to Great Expectations, it becomes apparent not only how these formative years influenced his literary career by inspiring many of the characters and themes predominant in the novel, but also how Dickens used his work as a form of therapeutic release from childhood tensions. Charles Dickens' childhood and young adulthood was definitely filled with enough drama to base a novel upon. Born February 7, 1812, to John Dickens, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, and his wife Elizabeth, Charles spent his earliest years in the English seaport town of Portsmouth.