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Early Life and Works The son of a naval clerk Dickens spent his early childhood in London and in Chatham When he was 12 his father was imprisoned for debt and Charles was compelled to work in a blacking warehouse He never forgot this double humiliation At 17 he was a court stenographer and later he was an expert parliamentary reporter for the Morning Chronicle His sketches mostly of London life signed Boz began appearing in periodicals in 1833 and the collection Sketches by Boz 1836 was a success Soon Dickens was commissioned to write burlesque sporting sketches the result was The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club 1836-37 which promptly made Dickens and his characters especially Sam Weller and Mr Pickwick famous In 1836 he married Catherine Hogarth who was to bear him 10 children the marriage however was never happy Dickens had a tender regard for Catherines sister Mary Hogarth who died young and a lifelong friendship with another sister Georgina Hogarth Maturity The early-won fame never deserted Dickens His readers were eager and ever more numerous and Dickens worked vigorously for them producing novels that appeared first in monthly installments and then were made into books Oliver Twist in book form 1838 was followed by Nicholas Nickleby 1839 and by two works originally intended to start a series called Master Humphreys Clock The Old Curiosity Shop 1841 and Barnaby Rudge 1841 Dickens wrote rapidly sometimes working on more than one novel at a time and usually finished an installment just when it was due Haste did not prevent his loosely strung and intricately plotted books from being the most popular novels of his day When he visited America in 1842 he was received with ovations but awakened some displeasure by his remarks on copyright protection and his approval of the abolition of slavery He replied with sharp criticism of America in American Notes 1842 and the novel
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