He was a one man industry with novels, plays, acting, newspapers and public performance.
He even wrote and had produced an opera!
He regularly went on fifteen mile midnight walks and was known to duck his head into ice water when he literally became overheated with inspiration !
Called ‘inimitable’ in his own day one can only guess what he would have made of the internet and our social media.
He wrote his books in monthly serials and his readers hung on his every word.
His death was sudden and led to public grieving on a Princess Diana scale.
He is buried in Westminster Abbey and is a cornerstone with Shakespeare of English literature.
The Dickens bicentenary is marked with an impressive new biography from Claire Tomlin, a great exhibition at The London Museum and a BBC season with “A Tale of Two Cities “on Radio 4 and “Great Expectations” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood “ on television.
The North East’s very own Alun Armstrong features in the latter to add to his series of Dickens characters that have graced BBC productions over the last ten years.
The North East has its own Dickens connections with the famous visit that he made to Brough investigating headmaster William Shaw’s notorious Yorkshire school which featured in the immortal “Wackford Squeers Dotheboys Hall” school in Nicholas Nickleby.
A less well known fact but very personal family connection is that Dickens brother Frederick lies buried in West Cemetery in Darlington.
Frederick’s story played out like a character in one of his famous brother’s novels and warrants examination.
A favourite brother who married badly, he fell on hard times, became estranged from Charles and died a penniless alcoholic pauper living on handouts in his forties.
Dickens paid for his funeral and handsome headstone but did not attend his brother’s funeral.
When it came to estrangement Dickens had flint in his heart as this and the treatment of his wife ambly demonstrate.
Taken in the round however Dickens was generous of his time and talent.
He changed society for the better and continues to amaze and entertain with his wondrous stories, phrases and characters.
In an age wherein we live it can be truly said that these are “the best of times and the worst of times” Charles Dickens and his work remains something to celebrate and enjoy.
Check out Dickens on Google for the year long celebration of this great writer.
Locally and nationally something is sure “to turn up”in the words of Wilkins Macawber…