skip navigation
Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: Charles John Huffham Dickens Died: June 9, 1870
Born: February 7, 1812 Cause of Death: Stroke
Birth Place: Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, GB Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

xamination of money and society as seen through the eyes of a young man, John Harmon, who returned to London to claim his inheritance, but only if he marries an impoverished girl. Though not well received at the time of publication, the novel was seen in a better light by later generations of critics while receiving a handful of screen adaptations, including BBC serials in 1958, 1976 and 1998.In 1867, Dickens set sail for the United States for a second time to embark on a long and grueling reading tour that kicked off in Boston and continued in New York. Upon his return to England, he delivered a series of what he termed farewell readings in the United Kingdom between 1868-69, which took a toll on his health and caused his collapse on stage in 1869 following fits of paralysis. He cancelled the remainder of the tour and took to visiting opium dens in East London while commencing work on what would be his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). As the title suggests, the novel followed the mysterious disappearance of young Edwin Drood, an orphan who plans on marrying Rosa Bud and joining an engineering firm in Egypt. The central character turns out to be Droodâ¿¿s uncle, John Jasper, a...

xamination of money and society as seen through the eyes of a young man, John Harmon, who returned to London to claim his inheritance, but only if he marries an impoverished girl. Though not well received at the time of publication, the novel was seen in a better light by later generations of critics while receiving a handful of screen adaptations, including BBC serials in 1958, 1976 and 1998.

In 1867, Dickens set sail for the United States for a second time to embark on a long and grueling reading tour that kicked off in Boston and continued in New York. Upon his return to England, he delivered a series of what he termed farewell readings in the United Kingdom between 1868-69, which took a toll on his health and caused his collapse on stage in 1869 following fits of paralysis. He cancelled the remainder of the tour and took to visiting opium dens in East London while commencing work on what would be his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). As the title suggests, the novel followed the mysterious disappearance of young Edwin Drood, an orphan who plans on marrying Rosa Bud and joining an engineering firm in Egypt. The central character turns out to be Droodâ¿¿s uncle, John Jasper, a choirmaster secretly in love with Rosa and who comes under suspicion for his nephewâ¿¿s murder. Published in typical serial form, Dickens only managed to finish six of the planned 12 installments, leaving the identity of Droodâ¿¿s killer in doubt, though it was widely believed Jasper was the culprit. On June 8, 1870, while working on Drood in his home, Dickens suffered a stroke and never regained consciousness, dying the next day at 58 years old â¿¿ five years to the day after the Staplehurst crash. Though he desired a private burial, Dickens was laid to rest in the Poetâ¿¿s Corner of Westminster Abbey and left behind an unparalleled legacy as one of the most highly regarded author in the entire English-language canon.

By Shawn Dwyerand structured in a narratively challenging way, Bleak House saw few screen adaptations in the following century, though the BBC attempted three television versions, including an eight-part series in 1985 starring Diana Rigg, and a massive 15-part series with Gillian Anderson, Carey Mulligan, Charles Dance and Denis Lawson. Dickens followed up with Hard Times (1854), the shortest novel he wrote and one of the few that did not take place in London. As with much of his work, the novel skewered English society and its economic disparities, though critics and literary contemporaries were divided over its merits, with some claiming Hard Times was one of his finest works, while others dismissed Dickens for failing to understand its subject matter. Filmmakers in the following century tended to agree with the latter, as few adaptations of the novel were made â¿¿ a 1915 silent film was the only screen version until the BBC made television adaptations in 1977 and 1994.

For his next novel, Little Dorrit (1857), Dickens turned a satirical eye on Englandâ¿¿s debtor prison system, which had so greatly affected himself and his family early in life. Featuring the titular William Dorrit, a resident of the same prison where Dickens own father was sentenced, the novel also touched upon the issues of societyâ¿¿s lack of concern for taking care of the downtrodden, the safety and treatment of workers, and the lack of interaction between social classes. Once again, critics were divided over the work and only a few filmed adaptations were made, including a 1988 feature starring Derek Jacobi and Alec Guinness, and a 2008 BBC miniseries with Claire Foy and Tom Courtenay. Meanwhile, in 1857, Dickens served as something of a producer for the stage play "The Frozen Deep," which was written by Wilkie Collins and originally intended to be an amateur production, but soon caught the attention of her majesty herself, Queen Victoria, no doubt thanks to Dickensâ¿¿ heavy-handed involvement. It was during the preparations that he made the amorous acquaintance of actress Ellen Ternan, an 18-year-old to his 45 years with whom Dickens fell madly in love. Not wanting to upset Victorian mores, Dickens declined to divorce wife Catherine, though the two separated in 1858 and never saw each other again.

At this time, Dickens helped raise a significant sum to save a London childrenâ¿¿s hospital by giving a public reading, which sparked a highly lucrative career delivering similar performances in a number of hugely popular tours throughout England, Ireland and Scotland. Meanwhile, he commenced work on the first of two major works, A Tale of Two Cities (1859), a sprawling novel depicting the plight of the French peasantry during the French Revolution as well as an indictment of both the French and English aristocracies. Using a large cast of characters and hitting upon themes of social justice, good and evil, and redemption, A Tale of Two Cities sold over 200 million copies worldwide and remained one of the finest examples of English-language literature. Oddly, the novel only saw a handful of screen adaptations with two silent versions in 1911 and 1922, and a 1935 talkie directed by Jack Conway and starring Ronald Colman. The novel fared better on the small screen with an American version on CBS in 1980 starring Chris Sarandon and Peter Cushing, as well as requisite BBC adaptations in 1957, 1965, 1980 and 1989. During this period, Dickens returned to publishing as the editor of the weekly journals Household Words and All the Year Round, the latter of which he edited until his death in 1870.

While A Tale of Two Cities was his most complex work, Dickens⿿ Great Expectations (1861) proved to be his most famous and arguably his best. A personal favorite of the author himself, who felt that it was his greatest novel, Great Expectations followed the adventures of its central character, Philip Pirrip, also known as Pip, who becomes orphaned at six years old and dreams of becoming a blacksmith, but through the patronage of a series of colorful characters, becomes a gentleman instead. Featuring some of Dickens⿿ most memorable characters, including Pip⿿s wealthy benefactor Miss Havisham, his love interest Estella, and Abel Magwitch, an escaped convict and Pip⿿s closest friend, Great Expectations was a coming-of-age tale told in the first person ⿿ the first novel since David Copperfield to do so ⿿ that touched upon the usual themes of crime, social class and injustice. The novel was another giant success for Dickens and saw numerous adaptations in the following century, most notably David Lean⿿s 1946 version with Anthony Wager as Pip, Jean Simmons as Estella, Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham and Alec Guinness as another of Pip⿿s benefactors, Herbert Pocket. Nominated for Best Director and Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Lean⿿s "Great Expectations" was widely considered to be the greatest of all Dickens adaptations. Other notable adaptations were the 1974 version with Michael York and Sarah Miles, a 1989 film starring Anthony Hopkins as Magwitch and Jean Simmons as Miss Havisham, and a contemporary 1998 feature directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert De Niro.

During the last years of his life, Dickensâ¿¿ literary output slowed to a crawl due in large part to his numerous speaking engagements, but also in part to his involvement in a catastrophic railroad accident known as the Staplehurst rail crash. One June 9, 1865, Dickens and Ternan were returning to London aboard a boat train out of Kent that derailed while crossing a viaduct, killing 10 people and injuring 40 others. While both survived physically unscathed, Dickens tended to the victims, some of who died in his arms; it was an experience that greatly affected the author for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, he published his most complex novel, Our Mutual Friend (1865), a psychological e Scrooge-like t

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute