Day in History 9 June – Charles Dickens

On this day in 1870, novelist Charles Dickens died at his country home, Gads Hill Place, in Higham, Kent, England after a stroke at the age of 58.  Born Charles John Huffman Dickens on 7 February 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England.  Probably the most popular novelist of the Victorian era.  Dickens remains popular.  Some of the characters he created are among the most iconic characters in English literature.  In 1830, Dickens met his first love, Maria Beadnell, but her parents evidently disapproved of the relationship and sent her to school in Paris.  Dickens married Catherine Thomson Hogarth (1836-1870 his death) although they separated in 1858.  He possibly had a long affair with Ellen Ternan.  The iconic characters he created include;  Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, Oliver Twist, The Artful Dodger, Fagin, Bill Sikes, Pip, Miss Havisham, Charles Darnay, David Copperfield, Mr. Micawber, Abel Magwitch, Daniel Quilp, Samuel Pickwick, Wackford Squeers, Uriah Heep.  My favorite Dickens’s novels are;

  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist (Monthly serial in Bentley’s Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)
  • A Christmas Carol (1843)

 

  • David Copperfield (Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)
  • Great Expectations (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)

The Final Footprint – Dickens is interred in a vault in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, despite the fact that his wish was to be buried at Rochester Cathedral in Rochester, Kent, “in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner”.  His last words, as reported in his obituary in The Times were alleged to have been: “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fullfilled all the rules of art”.  His will stipulated that no memorial be erected to honour him.  The only life-size bronze statue of Dickens, cast in 1891 by Francis Edwin Elwell, is located in Clark Park in the Spruce Hill neighbourhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States.  Other notable Final Footprints at Westminster include; Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Edward III, Edward IV, Edward The Confessor, Elizabeth I, George II, George Friederic Handel, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, James VI and I, Samuel Johnson, Ben Jonson, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Mary I, Mary II, Mary Queen of Scots, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Richard II, Thomas Shadwell, Edmund Spenser, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, and William III.

Have you planned yours yet?

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