Dickens, Charles (7 February 1812 - 9 June 1870)
Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. As a child, he chafed at the two-hour religious services he and his family attended. His brief experience working as a 12 year old in a factory when his father was sent to debtor's prison had a life-changing effect on him. Although he returned to school, he began work as a clerk at age 15 when his family was evicted. Moving to freelance reporting he soon turned to story writing. Dickens launched on celebritydom with the serialization of his first book, The Pickwick Papers (1836-37).
Dickens was an amateur theatrical manager, a novelist, and the father of ten. His childhood, about which he would write, included working for a time in a blacking warehouse (a humiliation he is said never to have forgotten). He started out as a court stenographer and a parliamentary reporter, then wrote humorous sketches and became famous for his Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836—1837).
In 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth, but after she gave birth to their ten children, the two separated in 1858 in what has been described as an unhappy marriage.
Dickens painted rich portraits of all aspects of society in his work, and he dramatized abuses such as bad education, imprisonment for debt, and legal delays. His memorable characters include Ebenezer Scrooge, Uriah Heap, and Mr. Micawber, and among his noted works are A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859). Dickens once wrote,
- Missionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it.
Dickens was orthodox in many respects, praying daily and writing a Life of Our Lord (which took out much of the superstition) for his children. But at one time he joined the Little Portland Street chapel (Unitarian), where he was a close friend of the Reverend Edward Tagart. Although he returned to the Church of England, he quit it once again, saying: "I cannot sit under a clergyman who addresses his congregation as though he had taken a return ticket to heaven and back." Biographer Edgar Johnson, in Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph (1952) wrote of Dickens:
- Inclining toward Unitarianism, he had little respect for mystical religious dogma. He hated the Roman Catholic Church, 'that curse upon the world,' as the tool and coadjutor of oppression throughout Europe. . . . He thought the influence of the Roman Church almost altogether evil. . . . He had rejected the Church of England and detested the influence of its bishops in English politics.
Dickens actively opposed a bill to ban public activity and recreational outlets on Sundays, writing a pamphlet, "Sunday under Three Heads," which gibed at "the saintly venom," the "intolerant zeal and ignorant enthusiasm" of the pious, who would have denied the poor and working class their only respite after a 6-day work week. Biographer Hesketh Pearson noted the contradictions in Dickens's beliefs: "He accepted the teachings of Christ, not the doctrines of the Christian churches. . . ."
Bleak House, which was published in monthly parts (1852—1853), marked a decline in his reputation for many of his contemporaries, but the work has been considered one of the high points of his achievement by George Bernard Shaw, G. K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, and Lionel Trilling. Dickens, perhaps desperate for a title, originally had intended to call the work Tom-All-Alone’s Factory That Got into Chancery and Never Got Out.
In 1998 previously downplayed details about his private life appeared in magazines, including Vanity Fair (April 1998). Louise Brooks, a Paramount movie star legend known for epitomizing the Jazz Age and the sexual freedom of the 1920s, was described as having made a rough count of the men she had had sex with. She estimated a modest ten a year from the ages of seventeen to sixty, or 430. She divulged details that shocked many, including a statement that Dickens also was sex-driven and had a passion for young girls. Berkley Books editor-in-chief Tom Dardis quoted Brooks without otherwise documenting where she gained her information:
- In 1836 when Dickens married Kate Hogarth (20) he brought sister Mary (16), whom he really loved, to live with them. When Mary died in 1837 he nearly lost his mind. Upon reading The Old Curiosity Shop 1840—1841, old lady Hogarth [Kate and Mary’s mother] made him laugh when she said he didn’t fool her—he was Quilp and Mary was little Nell. (Nabokov used this allusion [Quilty] in Lolita.)
Dickens, at the end of his life, suffered from increased paralysis of the left side. With difficulty he could move about. It was a time when the main joy of living was for him to give public readings. He was still saddened by his children’s unhappiness, by his unamicable separation from his wife, and by the continued social injustices he had written about for so long. On June 8th, according to biographer Edgar Johnson, Dickens was sitting with his sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth, whereupon he suddenly announced that he had to go to London at once. Rising, he began to topple over while she attempted to hold him up. Unable to carry his weight, she let Dickens down slowly. “On the ground” were his last words as he slipped into a coma and died the following day.
In his will he directed "that my name be inscribed in plain English letters on my tomb. I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works. . . ."
Dickens died at his house, Gad's Hill Place, near Rochester in Kent and it was presumed that he would be buried at Rochester Cathedral. But public opinion, led by The Times newspaper, demanded that Westminster Abbey was the only place for the burial of someone of his distinction. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Dean of Westminster, after being approached by John Forster and the poet’s son, readily agreed and the funeral was strictly private, following Dickens’ own instructions. The grave in Poets' Corner was dug at night by the Abbey’s Clerk of Works and on the following day, June 14th, at 9.30am three coaches arrived in Dean's Yard (to the south of the Abbey) with the hearse. Only twelve mourners attended, made up of family and close friends, together with the Abbey clergy. So Dickens was buried in the almost empty and silent Abbey, the funeral service being read by the Dean. On the top of the plain coffin was laid a wreath of ferns and roses, with single red and white roses down each side and a circle of white roses at the foot. The coffin-plate inscription was the same as that inscribed on the stone. It was agreed that the grave should be left open, as by mid-morning reporters from all over London were clamouring to know when the funeral was to be held. Thousands of people from all walks of life came to pay their respects at the grave and throw in flowers. The grave was closed on June 16th and Stanley preached a memorial sermon on the Sunday following the burial. Each year on the anniversary of Dickens’ birth a wreath is laid on the grave. To the west of Dickens lies George Frederick Handel (d.1759), the great composer, on the east author Richard Brinsley Sheridan (d.1816), on the south Richard Cumberland (d.1811) dramatist, and, later on, to the north were buried the ashes of Thomas Hardy (d.1928) and Rudyard Kipling (d.1936].
He is buried in the Poets’ Corner, London’s Westminster Abbey. The gravestone is a black marble floor slab with name and vital dates.
A Unitarian on Dickens
Wesley Hromatko, writing for the online Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography, wrote the following:
- Charles Dickens is often considered the finest English novelist of the 19th century. His enduring comic characters are part of the culture. He is known as well for exposing the wretchedness of the downtrodden, for his anger at their heartless oppression and for his contribution to the celebration of Christmas. An enormously successful author and performer of his own work, he was the conscience of Victorian England.
- Although Dickens was baptized and reared in the Church of England and was a nominal Anglican for most of his life, he turned to Unitarianism in the 1840s as a Broad Church alternative. He associated with Unitarians until the end of his life. Early experience with Dissenters gave him a lifelong aversion to evangelical zeal, doctrinal disputation and sectarianism. Equally unsympathetic with High Church Anglicanism, he feared that the Oxford Movement might lead the English back to Roman Catholicism. Dickens, however, favored civil rights for Catholics and even once hoped his daughter would marry the Catholic Percy Fitzgerald, one of his literary protégés.
- Born in Portsea (now Portsmouth), Charles was the second child of John and Elizabeth Barrow Dickens. John Dickens was an amiable but improvident naval pay clerk. Elizabeth Dickens, a keen observer, a talented mimic and a dramatic storyteller, was her son's first teacher. Because of his parents' precarious financial situation, Charles had a limited formal education, supplemented by his reading. In 1824-25 Charles, aged 12, spent a dreary, humiliating year working at Warren's Blacking, a shoe polish factory, while his father was in debtors' prison. The young Dickens felt an outcast and feared that his ambitions would be crushed. After John Dickens was released from prison, the Admiralty granted him a pension and he began working as a reporter for the British Press. From 1825-27 Charles was able to attend the Wellington House Academy, but since the British Press failed and his parents were evicted from their home, his education abruptly ended.
- Charles began work as a solicitor's clerk. In the evenings he taught himself shorthand, which led to work as a reporter, first at Doctors' Commons law courts, 1829-31, then recording parliamentary debates for newspapers, 1832-34. In 1834 Dickens began placing humorous and satirical essays in magazines under the pseudonym "Boz." Some of these were included in his first book, Sketches by Boz, published in 1836. His reporting provided him a wealth of experience. By 1858 critic Walter Bagehot would call him "a special correspondent for posterity."
- As a young reporter Dickens associated with other contributers to radical journals including William Johnson Fox, a Unitarian minister, and John Forster, a Unitarian who became a lifelong friend. Forster ultimately became Dickens's literary executor and biographer.
- While working for the Morning Chronicle, 1834-36, Dickens fell in love with and married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of the Chronicle's music critic. George Hogarth, friend of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, encouraged Dickens's writing and, as editor of the Evening Chronicle, published twenty of his "Sketches of London." Charles and Catherine lived together for nearly two decades. They had ten children, one of whom died in infancy.
- Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers, was planned as a series of articles to accompany a serialized set of engravings. The project became, instead, an episodic novel illustrated to Dickens's specification. After a slow start, the Pickwick numbers became increasingly popular and by 1837 were a sensation. Pickwick catapulted Dickens to literary fame, and thereafter newspaper serialization became a standard way to introduce novels. A second novel, Oliver Twist, was serialized, 1837-39, in Bentley's Miscellany, under Dickens's editorship.
- In 1837 Dicken's beloved sister-in-law Mary died suddenly and his thoughts turned to immortality. One of the most celebrated scenes in The Old Curiosity Shop is the death of Little Nell. The schoolmaster tells the dying girl,
- There is nothing . . . no nothing innocent and good, that dies and is forgotten. Let us hold to that faith or none. . . There is not an angel added to the Host of Heaven but does its blessed work in those that loved it here." Dickens, however, later wrote, "I can't preach to myself the schoolmaster's consolation, though I try.
- After Mary Hogarth's death Dickens temporarily suspended work on Pickwick. Yet, in spite of his sense of deep loss, he soon resumed his writing career. Nicholas Nickleby came out in installments during 1838-39. In 1840-41 he published a short-lived weekly, Master Humphrey's Clock, in which The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge appeared.
- In 1842 Dickens traveled to America. Later that year he drew upon letters written home to friends to compile a satirical travel narrative, American Notes. He also burlesqued Americans in the serialized novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, 1842-44, poking fun at the airy obscurity of Transcendentalism. He has an American bluestocking - possibly based on Margaret Fuller - say, "Mind and matter glide swift into the vortex of immensity. Howls the sublime, and softly sleeps the calm Ideal, in the whispering chambers of Imagination."
- He was kinder to Transcendentalists in American Notes. He found in Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays "much that is dreamy and fanciful," but also "much more that is true and manly, honest and bold." He shared the Transcendentalist "hearty disgust of Cant" and concluded, "[I]f I were a Bostonian, I think I would be a Transcendentalist."
- Dickens had hoped to find in the United States progressive religious bodies, free from state control. Although disappointed with most American churches, he returned home full of enthusiasm for New England Unitarians in general, and William Ellery Channing in particular. He first attended Unitarian services at Essex Street chapel, London, and later took a pew at the Little Portland Street chapel. He liked the chapel's minister, Edward Tagart, and they remained friends until the minister's death sixteen years later. According to Dickens, Tagart had "that religion which has sympathy for men of every creed and ventures to pass judgment on none." Dickens wrote to Unitarian Harvard professor Cornelius Felton, "I have carried into effect an old idea of mine and joined the Unitarians, who would do something for human improvement if they could; and practice charity and toleration."
- Dickens's religious beliefs were those of most 19th century British Unitarians. In his will he urged his children to adopt a liberal, tolerant, and non-sectarian interpretation of Christianity, "the teaching of the New Testament in its broad spirit." He recommended they "put no faith in any man's narrow construction" of isolated passages. In The Life of Our Lord, written for his children and not published until 1934, Dickens summarized his faith as "to do good always." He believed humanity, created in the image of the divine, retained a seed of good. He preached the gospel of the second chance. The world would be a better place if, with a change of heart, people were to treat others with kindness and generosity.
- In 1843, while he was most active at Little Portland Street chapel, Dickens created the first and greatest of his Christmas books, A Christmas Carol. Around this time Christmas Day was again beginning to be celebrated and the holiday transformed. The story and its characters - Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Crachit and Tiny Tim - defined the holiday's meaning for the English-speaking world as the regenerative spirit of generosity, or what Dickens called his "Carol philosophy." The heart of Dickens's social criticism and his religious message is found in A Christmas Carol, his four other Christmas books, and his many seasonal stories.
- For much of 1844-47 Dickens and his family lived and toured in Italy and France. During this period he wrote Pictures from Italy and his first mature novel, Dombey and Son. His next novel, the semi-autobiographical David Copperfield, 1849-50, was his favorite and his masterpiece.
- Meanwhile, early in 1846 Dickens had briefly returned to journalism as the first editor of the Daily News, later London's leading Liberal paper. His major journalistic venture was as co-owner and editor of the weekly magazine, Household Words, 1850-59. It published pieces by Dickens and others, including Elizabeth Gaskell, Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Wilkie Collins and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The magazine did not serialize novels until 1854 when, pressed by a decline in profits, Dickens began running his industrial novel, Hard Times. He then also published Gaskell's novel, North and South. Household Words carried articles about kindergartens, literacy, sanitation, prisons and the right of workers to organize. Though aiming primarily at middle-class readers, Dickens made its mission "raising up of those that are down" and teaching "the hardest workers . . .that their lot is not necessarily a moody, brutal fact, excluded from the sympathies and graces of imagination."
- Dickens's work for charitable organizations foreshadowed the Social Gospel. He was critical of any religion that did not seek to relieve poverty. Moreover, he had no patience with those who raised money for foreign evangelism when there was so much suffering at home. He strongly supported the Unitarian health and housing reformer, Southwood Smith. The reform work with which Dickens was most personally involved was Urania Cottage, a home for fallen and other homeless women, funded by his friend, the philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts. Coutts favored strict treatment of the inmates, but Dickens insisted they be "tempted to virtue" in an environment more like a household than a prison. He had earlier convinced Coutts to fund the Field Lane Ragged School, which provided evening classes for the poor. Dickens's friend Countess Russell was among other Unitarians who shared his interest in the Ragged School experiment.
- Beginning in 1842 Dickens organized and acted in a series of amateur theatrical productions. In 1851 he helped organize the Guild of Literature and Art to encourage and support struggling authors and artists, which he endowed with the proceeds from his plays. In 1857 the troupe gave a command performance of his friend Wilkie Collins's The Frozen Deep for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
- Long dissatisfied in his marriage, Dickens fell in love with a young actress, Ellen Ternan, during the run of Collins's play. Charles and Catherine separated the following year. Members of the Hogarth family spread rumors about his adultery. Anxious to end the scandal, Dickens printed a protest of innocence on the front page of Household Words. Disagreement with his partners, who refused to reprint his statement in Punch, led to the dissolution of Household Words.
- Dickens loved children. He portrayed them with sympathy and understanding. For his own adored sons and daughters he devised elaborate entertainments. They continued to idolize him, though his marriage was failing. Their mutual affection cooled as the children became adolescents, and Dickens was disappointed in them as adults.
- With the development of Broad Church Anglicanism Dickens returned to the Church of England. After 1856 he lived in a country house, Gad's Hill Place, where he hoped to renew his childhood experience of an idyllic village church which he described in his 1860 essay, "City of London Churches." At the same time, however, he accepted Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, was interested in higher biblical criticism and was disgusted by church quarrels and the Protestant establishment's attempts to control freedom of thought. He attended the parish church irregularly, and when a dull curate arrived, he stopped.
- In the 1850s Dickens wrote two long serialized novels: Bleak House and Little Dorrit. In Bleak House he indicted the Court of Chancery, and the legal system in general, for absolute ineffectiveness. In Little Dorrit he examined the British prison system, especially debtors' prisons, and attacked the Victorian class system. In the weekly, All the Year Round, which Dickens supervised, 1859-70, two of his best-known novels appeared: A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. He dedicated A Tale of Two Cities to his friend, Lord John Russell, champion of political reform and religious emancipation. The novels of Dickens's last decade were Our Mutual Friend and the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
- In 1863 a Jewish acquaintance, Eliza Davis, wrote Dickens a letter complaining of the Oliver Twist character, Fagin, as "a great wrong" to the Jewish people. He replied that he had not meant any disrespect towards Judaism, but only meant to give his character a nationality. He made amends in Our Mutual Friend when he turned the stereotype upside down. The sympathetically drawn Mr. Riah is forced to front for a Christian moneylender, and a generous community of Jews shelters the heroine, Lizzie Hexam. Riah reflects, "[People] take the worst of us as samples of the best . . . and they say 'All Jews are alike.'" Mrs. Davis gave Dickens a Hebrew and English Bible inscribed, "Presented to Charles Dickens, in grateful and admiring recognition of his having exercised the noblest quality men can possess-that of atoning for an injury as soon as conscious of having inflicted it."
- During the last two decades of his life Dickens gave public readings from his works, using his acting skills to bring his characters and scenes to life on the stage. He began in 1853 with occasional public readings of A Christmas Carol to benefit charities providing adult education. Needing cash after the breakup of his marriage, he began paid performances of Christmas stories and scenes from his novels. His readings were more profitable than new books. He toured Great Britain, Ireland and America.
- On the second tour of the United States, 1867-68, Dickens renewed his ties with American Unitarians. Among these were his American publisher James Fields of Ticknor and Fields, the abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. His longtime friend, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, later paid him a return visit at Gad's Hill.
- Dickens had begun to age noticeably after he and Ellen Ternan were in in the 1865 Staplehurst railway accident. In March, 1870, the ailing Dickens was received by Queen Victoria, who later said, "He had a large, loving mind and the strongest sympathy with the poorer classes." Dickens last reading was only a few days later. Following this performance he said, "From these garish lights I vanish now forevermore." Within three months he was dead and laid to rest in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, near the memorials to Milton, Spenser, Dryden, Chaucer and Shakespeare.
- Dickens's works have been continuously popular since their publication. The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and David Copperfield have been general favorites. Radicals and socialists, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and George Bernard Shaw, honored him for his astute analysis of social problems. George Orwell observed that although "Dickens attacked English institutions with a ferocity that has never since been approached . . . the very people he attacked have swallowed him so completely that he has become a national institution himself."
- During Dickens's life his reception by literary critics was mixed. Some compared him to Cervantes and Shakespeare; others could not regard his serialized novels as serious literature. At the turn of the twentieth century Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster decried his works as mawkish, and they were excluded from academic curricula. On the other hand, G. K. Chesterton called Dickens "the last great poet." In 1940-41 three essays, by Edmund Wilson, George Orwell and Humphry House, marked the beginning of a critical reassessment of Dickens. Wilson's Dickens: The Two Scrooges (1940) noted in Dickens's life and work such serious concerns as strained relationships between sons and fathers, trauma in early childhood experience, hallucinations, obsessions and divided personalities. Contemporary taste favors Dickens's later, darker novels. Critical consensus now places him second only to Shakespeare among English writers.
Two Works about Dickens by Claire Tomalin
Claire Tomalin in 2012 wrote Charles Dickens: A Life (Penguin) and Chkarles Dickens: A Life (Waterstown's Special Edition) with an appendix of selected letters by Dickens (London:Viking). In The New York Review of Books, Joyce Carol Oates in her review included
- The life of almost any man possessing great gifts, would be a sad book to himself. —Charles Dickens, 1869
- Is Dickens the greatest of English novelists? Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield—are works of surpassing genius, thrumming with energy, imagination, and something resembling white-hot inspiration; his gift for portraiture is arguably as great as Shakespeare’s, and his versatility as a prose stylist is dazzling, as in this famous opening of Bleak House:
- London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun….
- Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights.
Oates has a long criticism in the review, ending,
- Admirable as it is, warmly sympathetic and often eloquent, Tomalin’s Charles Dickens frequently moves like a vehicle with concrete wheels set beside, for instance, the rapid, deft, conversational, and confiding short life Charles Dickens (2002) by the novelist Jane Smiley. There is nothing here resembling the flamboyant idiosyncrasies of the controversial thousand-page Dickens biography by Peter Ackroyd (1991), with its many risks and rewards, which must squat, like the proverbial eight-hundred-pound gorilla, in the peripheral vision of subsequent Dickens biographers. (Tomalin can bring herself to refer to Ackroyd only once, as if dutifully: Ackroyd, alone of contemporary biographers, believes that the highly fraught relationship between Dickens and Ellen Ternan was never consummated.)
- The most engaging writing in Tomalin’s biography is inspired by a critical appreciation of Dickens’s novels, as one might expect: Bleak House (“his imagination, always bold, now offers scenes as odd and inspired as Shakespeare’s”), David Copperfield (“a masterpiece built on Dickens’s ability to dig into his own experience, transform it and give it the power of myth”), Great Expectations (“a great book, delicate and frightening, funny, sorrowful, mysterious”), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (“the achievement of a man who is dying and refusing to die, who would not allow illness and failing powers to keep him from exerting his imagination, or to prevent him from writing: and as such it is an astonishing and heroic enterprise”). And Tomalin is very convincing in her discussion of the abiding secret of Dickens’s later life—his relationship with the ex-actress, Ellen Ternan, about whom, in 1990, Tomalin devoted a book aptly titled The Invisible Woman.
By and About
Dickens manuscripts and letters are in the Forster Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Dickens House, London; the British Museum; the Berg Collection, New York Public Library; Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City; the Benoliel Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia; the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California; the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas Libraries; the Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library; the Parrish Collection, Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey; and the Sadlier Collection, University of California at Los Angeles. The British Academy Pilgrim Edition, The Letters of Charles Dickens (1965- ), edited by Madeleine House, Graham Storey, Kathleen Tillotson et al., has reached its 11th volume, taking Dickens's letters from 1820 to 1867. Other primary documents have been published as Kenneth Fielding, ed., The Speeches of Charles Dickens (1960); Philip Collins, ed., Charles Dickens: The Public Readings (1975); Philip Collins, ed., Charles Dickens: The Critical Heritage (1971); and Philip Collins, ed., Dickens (1981), which contains interviews with people who knew Dickens.
In addition to the works mentioned in the above article Dickens wrote many Christmas stories (in Household Words, 1850-58, and All the Year Round, 1859-67) and four Christmas books: The Chimes (1844); The Cricket on the Hearth (1845); The Battle of Life (1846); and The Haunted Man (1848). His works also include A Child's History of England (1852-54); Reprinted Pieces (1858; contributed to Household Words, 1850-56); The Uncommercial Traveller (1861, amplified 1868, 1875; contributed to All the Year Round, 1860-69); Plays and Poems, ed. by R.H. Shepherd (1885); Miscellaneous Papers ed. by B.W. Matz (1908; the most substantial posthumous collection, mainly essays contributed to Household Words, 1850-59); and 16 further items, in a volume retitled Collected Papers, in The Nonesuch Dickens (1937). In addition there is Harry Stone, ed., Uncollected Writings of Charles Dickens: Household Words 1850-1859 (1969). Dickens did parliamentary reporting for the True Sun, 1832; the Mirror of Parliament, 1832-33; and the Morning Chronicle, 1834-6. The journalism collected in Sketches by Boz, Reprinted Pieces, and The Uncommercial Traveller represents less than half of what Dickens wrote for magazine publication. The pamphlet, "Sunday Under Three Heads" (1836), written by Dickens under the pseudonym "Timothy Sparks," expressed his opposition to the Sunday Observances Bill.
Forster's The Life of Charles Dickens, which contained many primary documents including autobiographical fragments by Dickens, appeared between 1872 and 1874. Much information about Dickens's private life was kept secret until the 1930s. The first major modern biography is Edgar Johnson, Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph, 2 vol. (1952, reprinted 1965). More recent biographies include Fred Kaplan, Dickens: A Biography (1988) and Peter Ackroyd, Dickens (1990). Among the historically important studies of Dickens are G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, A Critical Study (1906); George Orwell, "Charles Dickens," Inside the Whale (1940); and Edmund Wilson, "Dickens: The Two Scrooges," The Wound and the Bow (1941). Important for the study of Dickens's religious affiliations, beliefs, and their bearing on social issues are J.M. Connell, "Dickens Unitarian Minister, Edward Tagart," Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society (October, 1944); R.V. Holt, Unitarian Contribution to Social Progress in England (1952); Dennis Walder, Dickens and Religion (1981); and Joseph Gold, Charles Dickens: Radical Moralist (1972). The entries in Paul Schlicke, ed., Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens (1999) shed light on various aspects of Dickens's background, life and work.