When I was in high school our librarian liked to suggest books or authors to students she believed might like them. That is how my live long love of the works of Charles Dickens started. She suggested I try, Oliver Twist and I couldn’t put it down. My second Dickens' book was, A Tale of Two Cities. Who doesn’t love the greatest opening lines in all of fiction?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
Dickens led an incredible story book life. He father was imprisoned for debt and he was forced to work in a factory for pennies a day. Many would have accepted their lot and told all who would listen their tales of woe. But not Dickens, he read. He has often been described as an autodidact, and I suppose he was. He read, he learned and he remembered, forever.
Dickens intellect not only got him out of the blacking factory it made him famous. By age 24, only 12 years after being forced into the boot black factory, he was one of the most famous people in England. He reached the fame through the publication of his, Pickwick Papers. The papers were printed in installments and became the most widely read articles in all of Europe.
Dickens never returned to school, nor did he need to. His formal education ended after elementary school and after Shakespeare he may be the most famous of all English writers. His works are still selling today, his Tale of Two Cites, I referenced above has sold over 200 million copies. Because of his tough upbringing Dickens remained a champion of the poor and down trodden throughout his life giving both time and money to many helpful causes.
Born a pauper to a dead beat father Dickens story is remarkable. He could have been forgotten by the age of 12, instead he spent the next 46 years becoming one of the most beloved authors in all of the English language. Charles Dickens life ended too soon at 58, he was buried with kings and queens in Westminster Abby. Quite a finish for someone who started the race in last.