200 years ago today, English novelist Charles Dickens was born. The author of many novels that enjoyed wide success at their initial publication and have been renowned since, such as A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations, Dickens is regarded as among the greatest of Victorian novelists.
From his early days in a blacking factory – which proved hugely influential to his fiction, lending additional authenticity to works such as Hard Times – to his later years of international success, Dickens was a careful observer of society and social conditions. His fiction frequently combined these traits with a penchant for vivid detail and intriguing characters (often with bizarre names)
Several recent biographies attest to Dickens’s continued popularity. Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: a Life and Michael Slater’s Charles Dickens: a Life Defined by Writing both offer full overviews of Dickens’s life, while Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s Becoming Dickens: the Invention of a Novelist provides a look at Dickens’s early career.
UIUC’s Library holds many works of criticism discussing Dickens’s works, and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library also holds many primary texts by Dickens. We also have the electronic edition of Dickens’s letters; the e-book A Companion to Charles Dickens; and journals including Dickens Quarterly, a scholarly journal of the Dickens Society, and The Dickensian (print only).
- Dickens 2012 offers a look at international events and resources related to Dickens’s bicentenary.
- David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page provides ample coverage of Dickens’s life and works, with an interactive timeline, an exhaustive index of characters, a glossary of nineteenth-century English terminology, and a bibliography.
- The Charles Dickens Museum, based out of one of Dickens’s London homes.
- The British Library’s Dickens in Context provides a number of primary sources that bring the world of Dickens’s novels to life.
- The ongoing Dickens and London exhibition at the Museum of London.
- Dickens Journals Online is an initiative for creating free full online texts of Dickens’s magazines, where some of his most renowned works were first serialized.
- Charles Dickens as “Writer” at IMDB, listing the many film adaptations of his work.