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Charles John Huffam Dickens was born February 7 1812 in Portsmouth New Hampshire but left it in infancy His happiest childhood years were spent in Chatham an area to which he often talks about in his stories From 1822 he lived in London until in 1860 he moved permanently to a country house Gads Hill near Chatham His family was middle class very respectable one randfather had been a domestic servant and the other an embezzler His father was a clerk in the navy pay office and was well paid but he often brought the family to financial embarrassment or disaster Some of his failings and his enthusiasm are dramatized in Mr Micawber in the partly autobiographical David Copperfield In 1824 the family reached bottom Charles the oldest son had been taken out of school and was now set to work manually in a factory His father went to prison for debt These shocks deeply affected Charles Though terrible this brief collapse into the working class he began to gain that sympathetic knowledge of their life that informed his writings Also the images of the prison and of the lost oppressed or bewildered child recur in many novels When his father and mother got out of jail his mother wanted him to stay at work Happily the fathers view prevailed His schooling interrupted and unimpressive ended at 15 He became a clerk in a solicitors office then a shorthand reporter in the lawcourts and finally like other members of his family a parliamentary and newspaper reporter These years left him with a lasting affection for journalism and contempt both for the law and for Parliament His coming to manhood in the reformist 1830s and particularly his working on the Liberal Benthamite Morning Chronicle greatly affected his political outlook Another influential event now was his rejection as suitor to Maria Beadnell because his family and prospects were unsatisfactory His hopes of gaining and shock at
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