Dickens by huangyuarong


									By…Mrs. A. Frech
  It was the best of times;
it was the worst of times…

~Excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities
      by Charles Dickens~
v Born   1812 – Died 1870 (at the age of 58).

v Born  in Portsmouth, England February 7, 1812 to John (a clerk 
       in an office) and Elizabeth Dickens.  Soon after, the family 
       moved to London.

vThey were an “average” lower to middle class family.

v  Unlike many children of the times, Charles Dickens had some    
       formal schooling . 
v Charles’s father   loses his job and most of his income. 

v 1824 – Charles’s father is arrested for debt and is imprisoned
      (supposedly along with Charles’s mother and 5 of the 

vAt the age of 12, Charles is separated from his family and forced
      to go to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory to help pay off
      family’s debt.  (A blacking warehouse was an establishment 
      manufacturing, packaging, and distributing “blacking”, 
      which was used for cleaning boots and shoes.

v The experience of working in the Blacking Factory haunted
      Dickens for the rest of his life, and he spoke of it only to his 
      wife and closest friend, but the topic emerged in his 
v Charles’s father was released from Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison
     (supposedly after 1-1½ years), but Charles was further
     psychologically scarred by the blacking factory experience 
     because his mother insisted he continue to work there to 
     help the family a bit longer.

v  Charles’ father rescues him from this fate however, and 
      Charles Dickens was able to return to school where he 
      remained until the age of 15.

v At 15, he finds employment as an office boy/law clerk at an 
      attorney’s office, but this experience leads him to conclude 
      that he does not desire to go into law.

v  He soon began working as a free-lance newspaper reporter.  
v As stated, Dickens began to work as a free-lance newspaper
      reporter and writer.

vHis first published work is Sketches by Boz, which appeared in 
      1833 (Boz was the pseudonym that he wrote under).

v Over time, Dickens wrote a wide array of works that made him 
     one of the most prolific writers of all time.

v Books to know (many written in serial/installment form):         
     The Pickwick Papers (1836), Oliver Twist (1837), A Christmas
     Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1849 – which was considered 
     semi-autobiographical), Bleak House (1852), A Tale of Two
     Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860)… and more (14 
     novels written…plus one half finished at time of his death).
v Dickens’s writings often contained negative social commentaries
      about the times (particularly comments on social status), 
      but they also contained a positive message.  Dickens was 
      concerned with the plight of the “common” man. 

vDickens’s characters were often said to be like “people we know
     in the world.”  Yet some critics has accused Dickens of 
     engaging in writing caricatures (stock images) of people 
     rather than solid, believable characters. 

vKeep in mind how many of Dickens’s characters are so 
     memorable that they passed into common language    
     …such as Ebenezer Scrooge.

v Dickens desired to reflect truth about life and people  (the good 
      and the bad).  
(which have also been adapted into movies)
v During time that Dickens was a free-lance write (age 18), he falls 
     in love, but the relationship ends because her parents do not 
     find him to be a “good enough match”. 

v At 23, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of his 
      journalist friend.

v Together, they had 10 children (7 boys and 3 girls).

v There is a bit of scandal in the Dickens’ household.  Catherine’s 
     younger sister, Mary, moves in to help with the children, 
     and it is said that Charles idolized her.  She died  very 
     young, and this greatly distressed him and often  surfaced 
     in his writing as well.  
v After 22 years of marriage and much financial success, Charles
      separated from his wife Catherine due to marital difficulties 
      and being “temperamentally unsuited” for each other.  He 
      begins seeing an actress.

v It is said that Dickens was charming and brilliant, but had 
        many emotional insecurities that most likely caused him to 
        be extraordinarily difficult to live with.

v It is stated that he emotionally (and financially) blackmailed his
        own children to favor him and ignore their mother in his 
        final years by threatening to cut the children out of his will
        (some of the children obey – but others do not).
v In his books, Dickens continually spoke out about the conditions
      in Victorian England.

v His books stressed the themes that he considered to be the two
      greatest problems of the times: ignorance and poverty.

v He believed that education was the key to ending poverty.

v In part due to his vigilance to these causes, there was an 
      eventual change to the welfare system in England.
v Charles Dickens was well loved for not only his works, but for
     his public readings.

v In his later years, he went on tour, vowing to do 100 last readings
      before he died. He completed 86 of them before his death in

v Charles Dickens insisted on continuing to work and perform 
     public reading even when his health deteriorated and the 
     doctors warned against it.  His work was his life.  He was
     very popular with his fans.
v Dickens’s final public readings took place in London in 1870.  
      He suffered from his 2nd stroke (after a full day’s work) and 
      died the next day.  He died on June 9, 1870, at the peak of
      the Victorian Age.

v He wished for a quiet burial, but that request went unheeded.  
      Instead, he is buried at Poets’ Corner at Westminster
      Abbey, a place reserved for only the most respected writers
      in England.  

v Summing up his career…Dickens wrote many books and was a 
     celebrity of his time as well as quite wealthy for the times (but      
     children, a separation, charitable contributions, etc. took away        
     much of that wealth).  
                      Now let’s look at…
                   The Victorian Age 
Born 1819 – Died 1901

      (82 years)
v The Victorian Age lasted from 1837-1901, starting with the
      coronation of Queen Victoria (at age 18) until her death in
      1901 (at the age of 82).

v Queen Victoria remains a remarkable figure in history – not
     only for having been the longest reigning British monarch, 
     but also as the leader of a vast empire, and as the 
     inspiration for a culture.

v She was often advised not to read Dickens’s works because they
      contained “unpleasant subjects” that would upset her.
v In 1840, Queen Victoria had married her first cousin Albert.   
      For the next 20 years they lived in close harmony and had 
      nine children.  Albert died from typhoid in 1861.  Victoria 
      never fully recovered from his loss (she was only 41 when he 
      died), and she remained in mourning the rest of her life.

v Queen Victoria made many reforms to the monarchy during her 
     time.  She also brought about great expansion of the British
     empire.  Conflict was not a feature of the Victorian overseas 
     policy, but she had to face many uprisings, and even had
     seven attempts on her life.  Her stoic attitudes toward these 
     attacks greatly strengthened her popularity.

v She tended to remain out of the public eye after her husband’s 
      death except when necessary.  Victoria died on January 22,
      1901 (at the age of 82).
v Victorians invented the modern idea of invention – the notion 
      that one can create solutions to problems, and that man can 
      create new means of bettering himself and his environment.
v Art was beginning to enjoy a revival.  The upper classes tried to 
      re-culture themselves in the rise of the new monarchy.  The 
      availability of inexpensive reading materials, especially 
      illustrated newspapers and periodicals, created a large 
      reading public.  People were anxious for nonfiction and 
      fiction.  (Thus…one reason  Dickens was so popular).

v Queen Victoria’s country was the world’s leading industrial
     power (producing more than half its iron, coal, and cotton 

v It was a high point for England industrially and economically
      (the industrial revolution caused a boom in employment in 
      cities, but problems still existed because the pay was not 
v England’s territories were at their greatest size under Queen 
     Victoria, and London was by far the most powerful city in
     the world.

v London’s population went from 1 million to 4.5 million by Queen
     Victoria’s death.  The west end enjoyed great wealth, but the 
     more industrial east end suffered great financial hardships.

v Many people fell to financial hardships and were imprisoned for
     debt, as was the law.  Most people were unable to earn  
     enough money to pay off their debt and support their 
     families, thus causing a cycle of poverty.
v During the Industrial Revolution, the shameful practice of child
     labor was most common.  The displaced working classes 
     were not able to support themselves unless children were 
     employed.  In 1840, only about 20% of children went to
     school, while the remainder went to work. 

v  More fortunate children were apprenticed to tradesmen (for 64 
     hours/week) or hired out as servants (80 hours/week).  
     Others were not so fortunate (factory workers and even 
     prostitution for teen girls).

v Most children ended up in factories (like Dickens) and they
     were forced to work the allowed 16 hours/day.

v There were many changes along the way…with the best being a 
     reform act in 1847 that limited both adults and children to
     a maximum of 10 hours of work/day. 
v Overcrowding in cities due to the Industrial Revolution caused
     disgusting living conditions.  Sewers ran into drinking 
     water and caused serious problems.  Cholera and typhoid 
     were carried by polluted water; typhus was spread by lice; 
     and ‘summer diarrhoea’ was caused by swarms of flies 
     feeding on horse manure and human waste (and then 
     landing on food).  Health was a major concern/issue.

v Cholera becomes a major problem (a severe gastrointestinal
            bacteria illness) in 1831.  The wealthy were not immune; in 
            fact, they were often more vulnerable.  Water closets were 
            adopted by the more affluent households.  As a result of 
            this, sewers originally intended to take rain water into the 
            Thames now carried raw sewage – which was extracted by 
            water companies to be drunk by customers.
v The crisis came to a peak during a time referred to as the “Great
      Stink” of London in 1858.  There was an overpowering 
      smell coming from the Thames River, which finally 
      prompted some action.

v Death rates were higher than any time since the Black Death
      plague, and this forced reformers to face the need for better
      urban planning:  better/decent housing, sewers, street 
      paving and cleansing, pure water, etc.

v Dangerous working conditions and lack of unions or child labor 
     laws also contributed to deaths.

v  The need for many reforms started to be addressed.
v London’s conditions caused a serious rise in orphanages, work
     houses, debtor prisons, criminal prisons, etc. (all of which
     Dickens speaks out against in his works).

v Over-crowding caused crime, but mostly in the manner of 
     prostitution, pickpockets, street robbery (“garroting”), etc.  

v As a whole, the upper classes did much better than the lower 
      classes, but these were not easy times by any means.
v It has been said that Dickens invented Christmas, and it is at 
       least certain that he contributed to its popularity, especially 
       with the writing of A Christmas Carol.  

vThe Victorians loved Christmas and are an inspiration behind
     how we celebrate it today.

v The Christmas Card: The sending of greeting cards was a
      Victorian innovation.  The first commercial Christmas/New 
      Year card is believed to have been designed and printed in 
      London, England in  1843.  
        The very first Christmas card 
(which was printed in Victorian England - 1843)
v The Christmas Cracker:  This was a wrapped cylinder that 
      pops when pulled apart – and sometimes reveals candy, 
      which originated in Victorian England and was created by a 
      confectioner who wanted to imitate the noise of a crackling 

v The Christmas Feast:  Christmas often meant roast beef in the 
      northern part of England and roast goose or turkey in the 
      southern plus some plum pudding.  Victorians created the   
      idea of a large Christmas “feast” of treats to celebrate. 

v The Christmas Story:  It was customary for Victorian authors 
      to publish a Christmas story every year, and this is the 
      origin for what is certainly the most famous of all Victorian 
      Christmas stories… A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
v The Christmas Tree:  After Queen Victoria and her husband 
      Prince Albert decorated their first Christmas tree at 
      Windsor Castle (reminiscent of Albert’s childhood times in 
      Germany), the English public followed with enthusiasm.  It 
      soon became fashionable to decorate a tree with lighted 
      candles, ribbons, paper ornaments, candies, and fancy 
      cakes hung from branches by ribbon and paper chains.  
      Commercially manufactured ornaments (often glass from 
      Germany) replaced handmade ornaments as the century 
      wore on.

v Holiday Gifts:  The tradition of gift-giving continued, and 
      followed the popular trends and fashions of the times.
v Dickens’ books continue to be popular .  Dickens is known to be
      one of the greatest storytellers who ever lived, and, with the 
      single exception of Shakespeare, no writer of the  English-
      speaking world has the reputation for having a greater gift
      for creating sharply individualized characters.

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