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Charles Dickens was an English novelist and one of the most popular writers in the history of literature In his enormous body of works Dickens combined masterly storytelling humor pathos and irony with sharp social criticism and acute observation of people and places both real and imagined Encarta 1998 Charles Dickens was born on Friday February 7 1812 at No 1 Mile End Terrace Landport Portsmouth His father John Dickens was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office In 1814 John was transferred to Somerset House in London In 1817 John moved his family to Chatham and worked in the naval dockyard It was here at Chatham in the Medway Valley that Charles experienced his happiest childhood memories John was transferred back to the London office and moved his family to Camden Town in 1822 John Dickens continually living beyond his means was finally imprisoned for debt at the Marshalsea debtors prison in Southwark in 1824 12 year old Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot-blacking factory earning six shillings a week to help support the family Charles considered this period as the most terrible time in his life and would later write that he wondered how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age This childhood poverty and adversity contributed greatly to Dickens later views on social reform in a country in the throes of the Industrial Revolution and his compassion for the lower class especially the children Dickens would go on to write 15 major novels and countless short storys and articles before his death in 1870 The inscription on his tombstone in Poets Corner Westminster Abbey reads He was a sympathiser to the poor the suffering and the oppressed and by his death one of Englands greatest writers is lost to the world The storys characters and places he wrote
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