The world has seen many talented wordsmiths in literature, but few can hold a candle to the skill of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), especially when it comes to bleakness, hardship and injustice. After all, how many famous figures can boast that their name became an adjective (in this case ‘Dickensian’) meaning squalid, grim and poverty-stricken? That’s an impressive accomplishment of excellent descriptive writing (if perhaps somewhat depressing).
We have a feature in the works about Charles Dickens. To tide you over, here are 11 facts about Charles Dickens.
Charles Dickens Facts :
1. Dickens’ father was imprisoned for debt and 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a factory to help support the family.
2. Dickens’ story The Signal Man is partly derived from personal experience. In 1865 Dickens was involved in the famed Staplehurst rail crash in which seven train carriages toppled off a bridge that was under repair. Dickens narrowly avoided catastrophe as his own car was the first to be spared once the train finally stopped, however the incident scarred him mentally.
3. In 1846 Dickens co-founded Urania Cottage, a home for the redemption of “fallen” women where accepted candidates could learn skills, often domestic, and re-integrate into society.
4. Dickens was keenly interested in the paranormal, and has even been linked to the famous paranormal investigation group “The Ghost Club” of London.
5. Dickens kept a pet raven named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.
6. He was an obsessive compulsive, reportedly always re-arranging his hotel furniture and having to sleep with his head pointing north.
7. Dickens gave every one of his ten children nicknames like “Skittles” and “Plorn.”
8. Hans Christian Andersen became a good friend of Dickens and in 1857 visited his family, for five weeks. The visit ended with Dickens writing on the guest room mirror “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks which seemed to the family AGES!”
9. In Boston, thousands of people gathered at the dock to await the ship that carried chapter 71 of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop. When the ship arrived, they asked the captain about a beloved character from the novel: “Is Nell dead?” When the affirmative response came back, a collective groan rose up from the massive crowd.
10. He was an advocate of hypnotism and attempted to use it to cure his wife and children of ailments.
11. In his study he had a secret door which was designed like a bookcase filled with fake books rumored to include titles like Noah’s Arkitecture and a nine-volume set titled Cat’s Lives.