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Great Writers: Charles Dickens

Charles DickensCharles Dickens is the greatest English novelist and the second greatest writer in English (second only to Shakespeare). And Oliver Twist is the greatest English novel by far. Hope you read my previous entry about Stephen King.

Born in 1812, in Portsmouth, England, Charles John Huffman Dickens, became the most famous writer in his time (Victorian era) with the publication of Oliver Twist. His best feature is his storytelling method of precise and complete descriptions, etched with detail. For instance, I would like to point you to this first paragraph of Oliver Twist, by far, my most favorite work of art.

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

This first sentence and paragraph of Oliver Twist itself is indication of his in depth storytelling, and mastery of language. What made Dickens such great exponent of language and more than that, writing?

His way of imparting poetic justice to his writing style, never losing touch with realism is extremely popular. Oliver’s tale, deep in emotion, thrill, satire, and realism, never puts out your interest. Though it is a wonderful usage of language in it, people low in language abilities may find it a difficult read. However, Oliver’s quest from poverty and incarceration, through crime and court, to relief and honor is an epic tale to read.

Other big works of Dickens including A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, etc., are great reads as well.

Dickens, a voracious reader in his early years, took particular interest in the writings of Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett. They were his favorites in writing. They must have guided him to his creative writing success somehow. Though I have heard of Fielding, I have never of Smollett. And I have never read any works by Fielding. If any of the readers have, please comment on.

Dickens later worked as a legal clerk for some years and later learned shorthand enabling him to start career as a reporter in the Courts and Parliament. In 1836, Dickens found his life partner in Catherine Hogarth. In 1837, his first written work, Pickwick Papers was released. As it became successful, famous Dickens took pen to create his magnum opus, Oliver Twist.

Though some of the later writers, Oscar Wilde and G K Chesterton among them, according to Wikipedia, object to Dickens’s style of highly idealistic characterization, which is unrealistic, it is to be noted that this style has persisted and still does after centuries.

Another interesting aspect I would like to quote from Wikipedia is the naming of Dickens. It is an interesting name, with allusions to negativity and the vile in the Victorian era. Instances such as substitution of the word Dickens for ‘devil’ or ‘havoc/mischief’ is notable.

Download ebook or purchase

Here is a list of links where you can download Dickens works online. To purchase each title, use the Amazon link nearby. Download the ebook from the left link and use the right Amazon link to get hold of the hard copy of each classic.

The Pickwick Papers; Amazon Link

Oliver Twist; Amazon Link

Great Expectations; Amazon Link

A Tale of Two Cities; Amazon Link

Little Dorrit; Amazon Link

Hard Times; Amazon Link

David Copperfield; Amazon Link

Bleak House; Amazon Link

A Christmas Carol; Amazon Link

Doctor Marigold; Amazon Link

George Silverman’s Explanation; Amazon Link

Dombey and Son; Amazon Link

Martin Chuzzlewit; Amazon Link

I have not included all titles here, but only those, which I think are the most popular and the best. However, in the given links, you will find other titles as well on a little search. If in need for any more help, do comment on.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008


  1. Might I also recommend Dickens: Dombey & Son, and that wonderful, but much aligned epi Martin Chuzzlewit.

    Edwrd C. Patterson

  2. hi Ed, thanks for those suggestions, I have never read those works. I have updated, however, the links. Thanks.

  3. Did you know that most, if not all, his works were written and first published in installments in magazines? He wrote 25 books in all.

    My favourite opening paragraph is in Bleak House. It is so evocative of how smoggy London was in those days.

    Another wonderful description is in Little Dorrit - of the glaring sun in Marseilles.

  4. Thanks, Jak for the visit, yes, many of his works were installments, and he is the one writer who made such publishing popular.

  5. Pickwick papers is my all time favorite of Dickens, Lenin. Thanks for the article its very good. But why have you abruptly mentioned Stephen King in the first paragraph?


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