|We've included these webpages about Charles Dickens for two reasons. First of all we like his books - and as this is essentially a
site which indulges our personal whims, that surely is reason enough. But in the early years of the 20th Century, Dickens was
probably the most popular author in the Western World. My grandfather loved to read his books and introduced me to them at a
very early age. The years from 1900 to about 1920 were the heyday of the picture postcard - a time when a card mailed in London
would be delivered within a few hours, a service which was a precursor to the telephone - not quite an instant message but, in a
period when life was not quite so hectic, an adequate means of quick communication. Because of the demand, thousands of
postcards were produced and many millions of copies printed, among them a large number of cards depicting characters from
Dickens' works. Some of his books are widely represented, others - eg Great Expectations - hardly at all.
|393 Commercial Road,
Portsmouth, where Charles
Dickens was born on February
|A couple of postcards of Charles Dickens, both undated.
|"Dickens’ Opinion About America"
In America Dickens was very much impressed with the institution of higher education in Boston. He said that it was undoubtedly
that a great deal of the Boston intellectual refinement and power, was referable to the Cambridge University influence, which was
situated three-four miles from the town. The resident lecturers at the Boston university were gentlemen of knowledge and wide-
ranging attainments; and were, with no exception, men who would get rid of a grace, and did honour to every society in the
educated world. Most of the resident bourgeoisies in Boston and in its area, as well as a greater part of people with the liberal
professions, all of them have been learned at that same school. No matter what the imperfections of American institutions of higher
education might be, they distributed no prejudices; did not rear any bigots; never inserted between the individuals and their
development; kept out nobody on account of his religious beliefs; especially, in their complete course of study, recognized a world,
lying outside the university walls.
Dickens was as well impressed by the American structure of government. He confessed that the American democratic organization
was purer than that of England since no dictator existed. Though Charles Dickens was deeply impressed by some institutions, he
was as well gravely shocked by some for the most part slavery. He said that all those possessors, breeders, users, purchasers, and
slaves traders, who will, till the bloody episode has a bloody conclusion, own, breed, employ, purchase, and sell people at all
hazards; and who persistently deny the mistakes of the system....and who would willingly lead America in war, no matter civil or not,
provided that this had the only end.
|Writing Made Them Rich #2: Charles Dickens
by: Michael Southon
Charles Dickens was born in Portsea, England, in 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, stationed at Portsmouth.
Although his job was well paid, his father had a weakness for spending money and spent much of his life in chronic bankruptcy.
In 1824, when Charles was just 12 years old, his father was sent to debtor's jail. Charles Dickens was sent to a boarding house and
given a 12 hour-a-day job preparing bottles of shoe polish in a blacking factory.
But Dickens' fortunes improved: a sudden inheritance allowed his father to pay off his debts and he sent Charles to school.
At age fifteen Charles was placed as a clerk in the office of an attorney, a friend of his father's. In his spare time he studied hard to
become a Parliamentary reporter.
At age nineteen he entered the parliamentary gallery as a reporter for The Mirror. It was a well paid job and he soon became known
as one of the best shorthand reporters in London.
Dickens began writing fiction at age 21, under the nom de plume of 'Boz'. In 1836, when Dickens was 23, he began writing a series of
short stories (The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club) which appeared in cheap monthly installments. By the age of 24 he had
become internationally famous.
Charles Dickens burst onto the literary scene at a unique moment in English history
Until the end of the 18th century, England had been a mainly rural society. But from the late 1700's onwards, land holders started
forcing people off their land to make way for sheep farming.
At the same time the Industrial Revolution was creating new towns and cities with belching smoke stacks and factories that needed
workers - the English countryside was emptying and a new urban working class was emerging.
The concentration of people in towns and cities created something that had never existed before - a mass audience. Newspapers,
Magazines and Newsletters sprang up to cater for this new and growing demand.
Books were being serialized in Newspapers and Magazines - those who couldn't afford to buy a book could read it in weekly
installments. Dickens wrote and published most of his novels in this fashion - a chapter at a time.
Between 1837 and 1839, Dickens wrote three of his most famous novels Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.
In the first ten years of his writing career, the manic part of Dickens' manic depression had given him an endless source of energy
and inspiration, but now he began to succumb to depression.
In the 1840's he started to experience writer's block. He would spend days locked up in a room, unable to put words on paper. He
wrote: "Men have been chained to hideous walls and other strange anchors but few have known such suffering and bitterness...as
those who have been bound to Pens."
Dickens was an extremely energetic man and a compulsive traveler. He traveled the length and breadth of England, Scotland and
Wales and also made frequent trips to France and Italy. In 1842 he spent six months in America, where he was given the kind of
reception reserved for modern day rock stars.
In 1856 Dickens purchased a large residence in Kent, the kind of house he had always dreamed of owning.
Although Dickens became wealthy, he never forgot his origins. Throughout his life he visited the factories, the slums, the jails and
the poor houses. Indeed, his novels were a social commentary on the appalling conditions of 19th century England. He was well
known for his generosity and received requests for money wherever he went.
He is considered by many to have been a genius and the greatest English writer of the 19th century.
When Dickens died in June 1870, he left an estate valued at over $US6.5 million (2001 value).
(c) 2002 by Michael Southon
|Two views of Dickens' House, Gad's Hill, in Higham, Kent.
|Did You Know...........that Dickens was involved in a
train crash at Staplehurst in 1865 ? He was travelling
with his mistress, Ellen Ternan, and her mother.
|This we presume is what is now the Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty
Street, Camden Town, London.
|Postcards of the Past
|In conjunction with Zazzle, we have produced an extensive range of gifts, using images from these
old postcards. The items available include many reproduction postcards, coffee mugs, greetings
cards, key chains, fridge magnets, watches etc. Many images on these pages have a direct link to a
reproduction postcard - just click on the image to see and buy it ! (They are only about £1 each !) Or,
to view more gifts based on our old postcards of Charles Dickens and his works, follow this link.
|More Old Postcards
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