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Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

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The greatest English novelist of the Victorian era
Known for

A sculpted panel commemorating Charles Dickens.
View full size imageA sculpted panel commemorating Charles Dickens. © NMM
Charles Dickens is generally considered to be the greatest English novelist of the Victorian era.

His works include:

  • Oliver Twist
  • Pickwick Papers
  • David Copperfield
  • Bleak House
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Nicholas Nickleby
  • Little Dorrit
  • Martin Chuzzlewit
  • Great Expectations
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Hard Times
Port connection

Black Eagle Wharf with the schooner Express of Alnmouth.
View full size imageA riverside wharf from Dickens' day. © NMM
His works show a thorough knowledge of the port of London (or “Down by the Docks”). The Uncommercial Traveller charts his journeys to the docks and to surrounding districts such as Wapping and Shadwell.

Charles Dickens had a keen interest in the lives of ordinary people and a deep sympathy for those who worked in the port and sailed the ships.

Many of the greatest scenes in his novels were set in London.

Interesting facts

Not only was Charles Dickens a writer but also a journalist, a director and an actor in numerous amateur theatres.

Life story
1812Born in Portsmouth on 7 February, the son of Jon, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office at the dockyard, and Elizabeth Dickens.
1814His father moves to London for two years.
1821The family returns to London.
1833His first published story, 'Dinner at Poplar Walk', appears.
1836Marries Catharine Hogart.
1836-1857Among others he writes and serialises 'Oliver Twist', 'Pickwick Papers', 'David Copperfield', 'Bleak House', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Nicholas Nickleby', 'Little Dorrit', 'Martin Chuzzlewit', 'The Old Curiosity Shop', 'Barnaby Rudge' and 'Hard Times'.
1857Moves to Rochester.
1857-1870Among others he writes and serialises 'A Tale of Two Cities', 'Great Expectations' and 'Our Mutual Friend'.
1870Dies at Gads Hill Place in Rochester, and is buried at Westminster Abbey.

Find out more
StoriesThe 19th-century port
Docks and industry transform the Thames
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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