Who is Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was a British novelist, journalist, editor, illustrator and social commentator who wrote such beloved classic novels as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.
Dickens is remembered as one of the most important and influential writers of the 19th century. Among his accomplishments, he has been lauded for providing a stark portrait of the Victorian-era underclass, helping to bring about social change.
Dickens was born Charles John Huffam Dickens on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England.
The famed British author was the second of eight children. His father, John Dickens, was a naval clerk who dreamed of striking it rich. Charles’ mother, Elizabeth Barrow, aspired to be a teacher and school director.
Charles Dickens Quotes
1. A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.
2. We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.
3. 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 – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
4. Please, sir, I want some more.
5. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
6. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.
7. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.
8. Love, though said to be afflicted with blindness, is a vigilant watchman.
9. She had curiously thoughtful and attentive eyes; eyes that were very pretty and very good.
10. So new to him,” she muttered, “so old to me; so strange to him, so familiar to me; so melancholy to both of us!
11. She read Dickens in the same spirit she would have eloped with him.
12. There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.
13. Good for Christmas-time is the ruddy colour of the cloak in which–the tree making a forest of itself for her to trip through, with her basket–Little Red Riding-Hood comes to me one Christmas Eve to give me information of the cruelty and treachery of that dissembling Wolf who ate her grandmother, without making any impression on his appetite, and then ate her, after making that ferocious joke about his teeth. She was my first love. I felt that if I could have married Little Red Riding-Hood, I should have known perfect bliss. But, it was not to be; and there was nothing for it but to look out the Wolf in the Noah’s Ark there, and put him late in the procession on the table, as a monster who was to be degraded.
14. In a word, it was impossible for me to separate her, in the past or in the present, from the innermost life of my life.
15. The great grindstone, Earth, had turned when Mr. Lorry looked out again, and the sun was red on the courtyard. But, the lesser grindstone stood alone there in the calm morning air, with red upon it that the sun had never give, and would never take away.
16. I see Barsad, and Cly, Defarge, The Vengeance, the Juryman, the Judge, long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old, perishing by this retributive instrument, before it shall cease out of its present use. I see a beautiful city and brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making explanation for itself and wearing it out.
17. Of course they had more chains on him than Scrooge saw on Marley’s ghost, but he could have kicked up dickens if he’d wanted. That’s a pun, son.
18. Thackeray’s a good writer and Flaubert is a great artist. Trollope is a good writer and Dickens is a great artist. Colette is a very good writer and Proust is a great artist. Katherine Anne Porter was an extremely good writer and Willa Cather was a great artist.
19. Meat, ma’am, meat.
20. Today, as a result of the policy of Macmillan’s Government, Great Britain presents in the United Nations the face of Pecksniff and in Katanga the face of Gradgrind.
21. The day before the Queen’s Ball, Father had a visitor–a very young girl with literary aspirations, someone Lord Lytton had recommended visit Father and sent over–and while Father was explaining to her the enjoyment he was having in writing this Drood book for serialisation, this upstart of a girl had the temerity to ask, ‘But suppose you died before all the book was written?’ […] He spoke very softly in his kindest voice and said to her, ‘One can only work on, you know–work while it is day.
22. And here you see me working out, as cheerfully and thankfully as I may, my doom of sharing in the glass a constant change of customers, and of lying down and rising up with the skeleton allotted to me for my mortal companion.
23. It is too late for that. I shall never be better than I am. I shall sink lower, and be worse.
24. That’s the pint, sir,’ interposed Sam; ‘out vith it, as the father said to the child, wen he swallowed a farden.
25. Job Trotter bowed low; and in spite of Mr. Weller’s previous remonstrance, the tears again rose to his eyes. ‘I never see such a feller,’ said Sam. ‘Blessed if I don’t think he’s got a main in his head as is always turned on.
26. Dickens knew that Scrooge was never about Ebenezer, but always about us and what Christmas should be for everyone every day.
27. In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Tiny Tim is the personification of Scrooge’s dormant conscience that he finally acknowledges and embraces in the end.
28. I believe life is an education meant to teach us the need to be better people. And I believe this learning often takes place through trial and error which may mean being an awful person at times before clearly seeing and grasping the necessity to improve. If you don’t agree with me, just ask Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge. I think Charles Dickens got it quite right.
29. Dickens’ London was a place of the mind, but it was also a real place. Much of what we take today to be the marvellous imaginings of a visionary novelist turn out on inspection to be the reportage of a great observer.
30. There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, Uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” Fred, A Christmas Carol.
31. Hallo, my fine fellow!”
“Hallo!” returned the boy.
“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.
“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.
“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?—Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”
“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.
“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”
“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.
“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”
“Walk-er!” exclaimed the boy.
“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!
32. What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to light. The prospect of the gallows, too, makes them hardy and bold. Ah, it’s a fine thing for the trade! Five of them strung up in a row, and none left to play booty or turn white-livered!.
33. When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens’s photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry — in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.
34. He very soon acquired the reputation of being the best public speaker of his time. He had taken pains to master the art, approaching it with scientific precision. On the morning of a day on which he was giving a speech, he once told Wilkie Collins, he would take a long walk during which he would establish the various headings to be dealt with. Then, in his mind’s eye, he would arrange them as on a cart wheel, with himself as the hub and each heading a spoke. As he dealt with a subject, the relevant imaginary spoke would drop out. When there were no more spokes, the speech was at an end. Close observers of Dickens noticed that while he was speaking he would make a quick action of the finger at the end of each topic, as if he were knocking the spoke away.
35. One novel has been all my reading, Our Mutual Friend, one of the cleverest that Dickens has written.
36. I nearly fell asleep over Dickens in English. Mind you, he’s snoozeworthy at the best of times.
37. Mostly, though, he made people laugh, with wicked impersonations of everyone around him: clients, lawyers, clerks, even the cleaning woman. When Pickwick Papers came out, his former colleagues realized that half of them had turned up in its pages. His eyes – eyes that everyone who ever met him, to the day he died, remarked on – beautiful, animated, warm, dreamy, flashing, sparkling – though no two people ever agreed on their colour – were they grey, green, blue, brown? – those eyes missed nothing, any more than did his ears. He could imitate anyone. Brimming over with an all but uncontainable energy, which the twenty-first century might suspiciously describe as manic, he discharged his superplus of vitality by incessantly walking the streets, learning London as he went, mastering it, memorizing the names of the roads, the local accents, noting the characteristic topographies of the many villages of which the city still consisted.
38. He takes out his anger by having his carriage speed through the streets, scattering the commoners in the way.
39. There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last!
40. They cannot indulge in any detailed or merely logical defense of life; that would delay the enjoyment of it. These higher optimists, of whom Dickens was one, do not approve of the universe; they do not even admire the universe; they fall in love with it. They embrace life too close to criticize or even to see it. Existence to such men has the wild beauty of a woman, and those love her with most intensity who love her with least cause.
41. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!
‘I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!’ Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. ‘The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this.’”
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset.”
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
42. Happy Christmas!’ the man said.
‘Yes’, Charles Dickens said, who couldn’t bring himself to say ‘Happy Christmas’ back.
‘Isn’t it the best of times?’ the man went on.
The cat gave a gentle miaow of disagreement in his arms as Charles Dickens nodded. ‘Yes. And the worst.
43. Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this …. The quarrel between the North and the South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.
44. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and started up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat. Hunger was the inscription on the baker’s shelves, written in every small loaf of his scanty stock of bad bread; at the sausage-shop, in every dead-dog preparation that was offered for sale. Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomics in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.
45. Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
46. My impression is, after many years of consideration, that there never can have been anybody in the world who played worse.
47. My favourite hiding place was in the world of Charles Dickens. I knew every word he had ever cared to collect in a novel by heart. The sentences formed in my mind before my eyes could skim through the letters.
48. Pues bien; lo que yo quiero son realidades. No les enseñéis a estos muchachos y muchachas otra cosa que realidades. En la vida sólo son necesarias las realidades.
49. A man reading the Dickens novel wished that it might never end. Men read a Dickens story six times because they knew it so well.
50. It’s Christmas Day!” said Scrooge to himself. “I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can.
51. Scrooge’ understood how to handle a Genius.
52. But what were even gold and silver, precious stones and clockwork, to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came issuing forth, awakening instant recollections of some new grammar had at school, long time ago, with ‘Master Pinch, Grove House Academy’, inscribed in faultless writing on the fly-leaf! That whiff of russia leather, too, and all those rows on rows of volumes, neatly ranged within – what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spick-and-span new works from London, with the title-pages, and sometimes even the first page of the first chapter, laid wide open: tempting unwary men to begin to read the book, and then, in the impossibility of turning over, to rush blindly in, and buy it! Here too were the dainty frontispiece and trim vignette, pointing like hand-posts on the outskirts of great cities to the rich stock of incident beyond; and store of books, with many a grave portrait and time-honoured name, whose matter he knew well, and would have given mines to have, in any form, upon the narrow shelf beside his bed … What a heart-breaking shop it was!
53. Oh! for God’s sake let me go!” cried Oliver; “let me run away and die in the fields. I will never come near London; never, never! Oh! pray have mercy on me, and do not make me steal. For the love of all the bright Angels that rest in Heaven, have mercy upon me!
54. I don’t know what it is”, answered the girl, “I only know that it is so, and not with me alone, but with hundreds of others as bad and wretched as myself. I must go back. Whether it is God’s wrath for the wrong I have done, I do not know, but I am drawn back to him through every suffering and ill usage; and I should be, I believe, if I knew that I was to die by his hand at last.
55. Harriet, to hide her excitement, had turned to the bookshelves in the corner between the windows and the fireplace. The books, untidily arranged, some standing, some piled on their sides, with newspapers and magazines wedged among them, confused her. There were no sets and a great many were paper-backed. She saw friends – Mr. Dickens was present — and nodding acquaintances – Laurence Sterne, for instance, and Theodore Dreiser — but they were among strangers: Henry Miller, Norman Douglas, Saki, Ronald Firbank, strangers all.
56. We need to be careful how we deal with those about us, when every death carries to some small circle of survivors, thoughts of so much omitted, and so little done—of so many things forgotten, and so many more which might have been repaired! There is no remorse so deep as that which is unavailing; if we would be spared its tortures, let us remember this, in time.
57. Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?
58. In short, I should have liked to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet be man enough to know its value
59. When I have come to you, at last (as I have always done), I have come to
peace and happiness. I come home, now, like a tired traveller, and find
such a blessed sense of rest!
60. If I may so express it, I was steeped in Dora. I was not merely over head and ears in love with her, but I was saturated through and through. Enough love might have been wrung out of me, metaphorically speaking, to drown anybody in; and yet there would have remained enough within me, and all over me, to pervade my entire existence