Dickens, Charles (1812-1870), was a great English novelist and one of the most popular writers of all time. His best-known books include A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, and A Tale of Two Cities.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England, on Feb. 7, 1812. He moved with his family to London when he was about two years old.
Dickens's father, John Dickens, was a poor and easygoing clerk who worked for the navy. John served in some respects as the model for Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield. He spent time in prison for debt, an event that Charles re-created in Little Dorrit.
At the age of 12, Charles worked in a London factory pasting labels on bottles of shoe polish. He held the job only a few months, but the misery of that experience remained with him all his life.
Dickens became a newspaper reporter in the late 1820's. Dickens's first book, Sketches by Boz (1836), consisted of articles he wrote for the Monthly Magazine and the London Evening Chronicle.
Dickens's health began to decline about 1865, and he died of a stroke on June 9, 1870.