Charles Dickens’ imagination is unexplainable. Nevertheless, his biography shows the source of that power and is the best place to define it.
Born Charles Dickens on February 7, 1812 to parents John and Elizabeth Dickens, near Portsmouth on England’s south coast. A lower-middle-class family, John dickens was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office in Portsmouth. John having come from servants and Elizabeth from minor bureaucrats. John Dickens was vivacious and generous with a tendency to live beyond his means. Charles based Mr. Micawber and Mrs. Nickleby, in A Tale of Two cities, on his parents.
At a young age Charles was taught to read by his mother and enjoyed reading the classics in his fathers collection, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Defoe, Smollett, Fielding, and Goldsmith. These classics had quite an effect on his imagination. Charles looked at these young years as being a kind of golden age. The Pickwick Papers, his first novel, was an attempt to recreate the innocence and spirit of his youth.
With financial hardship overtaking the Dickens’ family, Charles was taken out of school to do menial household work. His father was imprisoned for debt and released three months later. During this period Charles felt a sense of abandonment that would turn out to be the major themes of his novels. His sympathy for the victimized, his fascination with prisons and money, the desire to vindicate his heroes’ status as gentlemen, and the idea of London as an awesome, lively, and rather threatening environment all reflect these experiences. Out on his own for a time at twelve years of age, Dickens acquired a lasting self-reliance, a driving ambition, and a boundless energy that went into everything he did.
At the age of 20 Charles became a journalist. Over the next 5 years he had the reputation of the fastest and most accurate parliamentary reporter in London.
Passing at 58, June 9, 1870, from a stroke. Charles was the best novelist the Victorian age produced. He was laid to rest in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.