Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in Portsmouth on Feb. 7,1812. He moved with his family to London when he was about 2 years old. Many events and people in his books were based on events and people in his life. He was the son of a clerk who was imprisoned for debt. Even when his father was free, there was not enough money to support the family adequately. So Charles was taken out of school at the age of 12 to go to work in a factory pasting labels on bottles. He only had the job for a few months, but the shock affected him deeply. The images of prison life and of mistreated or lost children appeared in many of his novels.
Charles attended school off and on until the age of 15 when he left for good. He loved reading and was influenced by some of the early English writers like William Shakespeare. But most of his knowledge that he used as an author came from what he observed around him. He was a keen observer of life and had a great understanding of human nature, particularly of young people.
Dickens became a newspaper reporter in the late 1820’s. He covered debates in Parliament and wrote feature articles of the ever changing London scene. Dickens’ first publication was done under the pseudonym Boz in 1836. It consisted of articles he wrote for the “Monthly Magazine'; and the “Evening Chronicle.'; These articles surveyed manners and conditions of the time.
Dickens’ personal unhappiness marred his public success. In 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth. Her sister, Mary, died in 1837 and Dickens suffered great grief. This led many to believe that he loved Mary more than his wife. Although Catherine was not real intelligent, she was a good woman. She and Charles had 10 children, but they separated in 1858, after 22 years of marriage.
Dickens had a lot of mental and physical energy. He recorded his activities in thousand of letters. They were very enjoyable reading. He crowded his social life with friends from the world of art and literature. He enjoyed drama and went to the theater as much as he could. After he became rich and famous, he made a hobby of producing and acting in amateur theatrical productions. He also was successful in giving public readings of his works. He also busied himself with various charities for schools for poor children and a loan society to enable the poor to move to Australia.