Charles John Huffam Dickens (pronounced /ˈtʃɑrlz ˈdɪkɪnz/; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters.
Many of his novels, with their recurrent concern for social reform, first appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialized. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next installment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
His work has been praised for its realism, mastery of prose, and unique personalities by writers such as George Gissing, Leo Tolstoy and G. K. Chesterton; though others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, criticized it for sentimentality and implausibility.
Having spent the first three years of his life in Portsmouth, Hampshire, the family moved to London in 1815. His early years seem to have been idyllic, although he...