About Real Reads
Charles Dickens

What the Dickens does Dickens mean to you? Oliver’s empty bowl? Christmas ghosts? Exciting television dramas? Big books full of long words?

The truth is that Charles Dickens was a brilliant story-teller who had experienced every aspect of life in Victorian England. As a child he saw the misery of debtors’ prisons and, like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, survived London’s dangerous streets. As an adult, he moved in high circles, amongst top politicians debating in parliament. Largely self-educated, he possessed the genius and the imagination to become the greatest writer of his age.

A hundred and fifty years ago, anyone who could read read Dickens. Even Queen Victoria read Dickens. His work, often serialised in newspapers, was easily available. The exciting plots and lifelike characters appealed, as they do today, to young and old, rich and poor. Today, reading Dickens’ original novels is more of a challenge, as many of the things he described and the words he used to describe them are no longer part of our everyday experience.

However, the things he wrote about – poverty, justice, cruelty, responsibility and love – are just as important today as they were all those years ago.

Charles Dickens’ stories aren’t just classics because they’re old – they’re classics because they are fascinating, exciting and humorous, and because they show a great understanding of something that time can never change – human nature.