Charles John Huffam Dickens
(7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) He was the most popular British novelist of
the Victorian era, and he
remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic
Many of his novels, with their recurrent concern for social reform, first
appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time. Unlike other authors who completed
entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they
were being serialized. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm,
punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the
public looking forward to the next instalment. The continuing popularity of his
novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
His work has been praised for
its mastery of prose and unique personalities by writers such as George Gissing and G. K. Chesterton, though others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, criticised him for sentimentality and implausibility.
Dickens loved the style of 18th century Gothic romance, although it had already become a target for parody. One "character"
vividly drawn throughout his novels is London itself. From the coaching inns on the
outskirts of the city to the lower reaches of the Thames, all aspects of the capital
are described over the course of his body of work.
His writing style is florid and poetic, with a strong comic touch. His satires of British
aristocratic snobbery—he calls one character the "Noble Refrigerator"
— are often popular. Comparing orphans to stocks and shares, people to tug
boats, or dinner-party guests to furniture are just some of Dickens's acclaimed
flights of fancy. Many of his characters' names provide the reader with a hint
as to the roles played in advancing the storyline, such as Mr. Murdstone in the
novel David Copperfield, which is clearly a combination of "murder"
and stony coldness. His literary style is also a mixture of fantasy and realism.