By the mid-1850s, Dickens was a popular and successful writer; his novels included The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-37), The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1837-39), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), A Christmas Carol(1843), and David Copperfield (1849-50).
In 1856 Dickens helped his friend Wilkie Collins write a play called The Frozen Deep. Dickens hired the cast, which included an 18-year-old actress named Ellen Ternan. Forty-five-year-old Dickens fell in love with Ellen and became increasingly frustrated by his marriage of more than 20 years and the 10 children he had to support; he felt that his wife, Catherine, did not match his energy and intellect. Dickens’ affair with Ellen Ternan lasted for the rest of his life, but he was very careful to keep her out of the public eye, even using fake names to buy her homes.
Dickens went to work on his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but before he could finish it he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 58.
Over at AbeBooks, they’ve assembled a list of 11 Charles Dickens Facts. Here are my rankings of 3 of the 11 facts. The strangest is number 5 where we find out Chuck stuffed his pet raven when it died; The funniest is number 7 in which he gave all 10 of his children nicknames, including Skittles (how did he know about the modern-day fruit-flavored candy back in the 1800’s?); and the coolest is number 11 because every writer should have a secret door that looks like a bookshelf.
I’ve read Dickens’ Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities. Which of his works have you read?