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Happy birthday Charles Dickens: Some fun facts about the most celebrated writer of literature

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On the occasion of Charles Dickens’ birthday, here are some fun facts about one of the most celebrated writers of literature

  • It is a belief in amongst Charles Dickens’ followers and literary critics that his surname, Dickens, was probably a curse invented by none other than the bard himself, William Shakespeare. During his times, instead of saying, “What the devil?” as a profanity, people exclaimed, “What the dickens?” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first usage of that word was in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. And Shakespeare frequently invented words, just because they weren’t there.
  • Charles Dickens had a touch childhood. He was forced to leave school after his father was jailed for having ‘bad debts’. Young Dickens then started working in a boot polish factory, where he worked for three years. The conditions were very poor, and Dickens started suffering from loneliness. And his childhood hardships have been chronicled extensively in David Copperfield.
  • Before becoming a full-time author, Dickens was a journalist. He regularly contributed articles to journals called The Mirror of Parliamentand The True Sun. In 1833, Dickens was hired as a parliamentary reporter for The Morning Chronicle newspaper. He then started to publish sketches as well under the pen name Boz.

  • His wife, Catherine Hogarth, whom he married in 1836, was the daughter of one of his editors. They had 10 children together. Dickens and his wife separated in 1858 and Dicken then had a relationship with an actress, Ellen Ternan.
  • Dickens gained popularity when his story, The Pickwick Papers, was published as a serial in 1836.
  • Apart from writing, Dickens also had a liking for all things paranormal. So much so that he had gained membership to The Ghost Club to fulfil his curiosities.
  • The Dickens family had several pets: From a canary called Dick to a series of dogs and also a raven called Grip. When Grip died after consuming paint, Dickens had him stuffed, and the raven now resides in the Philadelphia Free Library. Grip is also said to have been the inspiration behind the raven in Barnaby Rudge(1841). A kitten named Bob was also memorialised through taxidermy like Grip. When Bob died, Dickens made his paw into a letter opener, which is now on display in the New York Public Library.
  • Many also believe that Dickens suffered from Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD).  MedIndiawrites, according to a Dickens biography, the writer, “had a habit of rearranging furniture whenever he stayed in a hotel room and inspecting his children’s bedrooms every morning, leaving behind notes when he was not satisfied with their tidiness”.
  • Dickens died on June 9, 1870 after having suffered a stroke. He was then working on the (incomplete) novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Though there have been several television and theatre retellings of the story, bringing he Drood’s tale to a logical conclusion.
  • Some of the writer’s famous works include The Adventures of Oliver Twist, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and the incomplete The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Most of them have also been made into movies