The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

A energetic and insightful biographical birthday party of the resourceful genius of Charles Dickens, published in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his demise.Charles Dickens become a outstanding public performer, a superb orator and one in every of the most famous of the Eminent Victorians. Slight of build, with a frenzied, hyper-lively personality, Dickens looked plenty older than his fifty-8 years when he died―an occasion marked by a crowded funeral at Westminster Abbey, despite his waking desires for a small affair. Experiencing the worst and great of lifestyles all through the Victorian Age, Dickens was now not merely the conduit through whom a number of the most loved characters in literature got here into the world. He changed into one of them.Filled with the twists, pathos, and uncommon characters that sprang from this novelist’s top notch imagination, The Mystery of Charles Dickens seems again from the mythical writer’s demise to do not forget the key events in his lifestyles. In doing so, he seeks to understand Dickens’ creative genius and enduring popularity. Following his life from cradle to grave, it becomes clear that Dickens’s fiction drew from his existence―a reality he acknowledged. Like Oliver Twist, Dickens suffered a wretched childhood, then grew up to grow to be now not most effective a respectable gentleman however an artist of prodigious popularity. Dickens knew firsthand the poverty and pain his characters endured, together with the scandal of a failed marriage. Going beyond general narrative biography, A. N. Wilson brilliantly revisits the wellspring of Dickens’s sizable and wild imagination, to expose at long last why his novels captured the hearts of nineteenth century readers―and why they maintain to resonate today. The Mystery of Charles Dickens is illustrated with 30 black-and-white images.


Is there room on the shelf for another book about Charles Dickens? The great novelist has been endlessly scrutinized by critics and biographers, bowdlerized on level and screen, and lionized by way of generations of readers considering that his death one hundred fifty years ago. A.N. Wilson, the celebrated British biographer of many eminent Victorians (inclusive of Queen Victoria herself), now lends his information and singular attitude in The Mystery of Charles Dickens.

Rather than supplying a straightforward, linear biography, Wilson explores Dickens’ lifestyles and work through the prism of seven “mysteries” that fashioned the elusive writer. “Dickens, as an actor and a novelist, and as a person, turned into a man of masks,” Wilson suggests, “who probably never discovered himself to anyone; pretty conceivably, he did not reveal himself to himself.” The rich narrative starts offevolved with Dickens’ closing public deception: Even within the throes of dying from a stroke in June 1870, he diligently saved the lifestyles of his lengthy-time period extramarital relationship with actress Nelly Ternan from the adoring eyes of the public. Next, Wilson seems on the mysteries of Dickens’ parents—his intricate courting with his father and his fraught feelings in the direction of his mother—and how the depiction of childhood in his fiction reflects an ideal rather than a reality. Similarly, his disastrous marriage changed into marked by using non-public cruelty that belied his magnanimous public persona. The writer’s substantial acts of charity, performed largely anonymously, were complicated as well. Wilson shows that Dickens likely partook within the services of prostitutes even as he supported organizations tasked with putting these women on the straight and narrow.

It has lengthy been stated how tons Dickens’ fiction drew on real lifestyles, both his own and the wider world he observed, but Wilson convinces readers that Dickens’ loved fictional vision, each comedian and condemning, was a creation of the writer’s imagination, no longer grounded in realism like Balzac. It is a romanticized photo of 19th-century reality. Wilson brings dazzling, far-accomplishing erudition to this study, drawing on unexpected, from time to time arcane resources to paint a portrait with brilliant intensity and nuance.


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