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'It is about magic - just the right kind of magic. It thrills me still to read it' Shirley Hughes
Charles Dickens was born in Hampshire on February 7, 1812. His father was a clerk in the navy pay office, who was well paid but often ended up in financial troubles. When Dickens was twelve years old he was send to work in a shoe polish factory because his family had be taken to the debtors' prison.Fagin is named after a boy Dickens disliked at the factory. His career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays began to appear in periodicals. The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836. In the same year he married the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of Oliver Twist began in 1837 while The Pickwick Papers was still running. Many other novels followed and The Old Curiosity Shop brought Dickens international fame and he became a celebrity America as well as Britain. He separated from his wife in 1858. Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Marley's ghostly face on the knocker of Scrooge's door still gives me the shivers - Michael Morpurgo, Independent
'His greatest success' George Orwell
'Dickens's hypnotic storytelling and fantastic characterisation... even in its incomplete form, this remains a gripping and troubling masterpiece' Sunday Express
'It is proof of Dickens' genius (or maybe just the unchanging nature of Britain) that you can read Hard Times as if it were all happening now' Guardian
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'
'Thirty years ago there stood...in the borough of Southwark ... the Marshalsea Prison. It had stood there many years before, and it remained there some years afterwards; but it is gone now, and the world ...
'Perhaps Bleak House is his best novel. . . . When Dickens wrote Bleak House he had grown up' G. K. Chesterton
'The most perfect of all the Dickens novels' Virginia Woolf
'In the little world in which children have their existence, whosever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice' Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
A special edition of Oliver Twist for the bicentenary year - new cover to be winner of a photography competition