Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was a prolific English writer of fiction and nonfiction, including fifteen novels, despite having little formal education. He was born in Portsmouth, England, to a family of little means. When his father was locked up in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison in London, twelve-year-old Charles was forced to leave school and work in a boot blacking factory, which inspired his later writings and social activism. The 1936 serialization of his Pickwick Papers marked the beginning of his literary success, which soon propelled him into international celebrity. His works of fiction were especially known for their linguistic creativity and repulsive caricatures, and he was considered the greatest novelist of his era.
Grace Moore is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Dickens and Empire, which was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier's Award for literary scholarship, and The Victorian Novel in Context.