Novelist Charles Dickens died on June 9, 1870 at his home at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent, England. He created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.
He was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. At a young age, Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors' prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.
Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humor, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly installments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age and his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. On June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered a stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day, on June 9th, he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, un-ostentatious, and strictly private manner," he was laid to rest in Ports’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Literary Legends of the British Isles. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links: