Classic Books · Literary Lists

Happy birthday, Charles Dickens!

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. That makes today the 205th anniversary of his birth. (Impressive math skills, eh?)

Twenty-four years later, Dickens would write The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist, at the same time. At the same time! He’s estimated to have created over 13,000 characters. Basically, that would populate a medium-sized town!

ThCharles Dickensis is what we might call literary beast mode.

When I imagine Charles Dickens at work, I imagine a stream of emotions flowing from his heart, to his fingers, through his ink-dipped quill, onto paper.

I think of a writer who was highly attuned to his environment, who saw every little detail and could not forget what he saw.

I think of a writer who felt things deeply, who was able to pour those feelings out, and pin them to the page, where we can continue to experience the vibrant, terrible, wonderful world through his heart and eyes.

I think of a writer who, despite his personal flaws as a human being, was able to see and show the best that is possible in humanity. He showed us the worst, too. But he also showed us the beautiful potential in people and the world.

Here are a few of my favorites. They represent just a teeny, miniscule drop in the great ocean of his works (and of my favorite moments in his works). But anyway, I do love these moments.

Charles DickensFrom A Christmas Carol:

I have always thought of Christmas time […] as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!’”

’I don’t know what to do!’ cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. ‘I am light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to the world! Hallo there! Whoop! Hallo!’”

From David Copperfield:

‘My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!’”

“‘Never,’ said my aunt, ‘be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.’”

From Great Expectations:

“But I loved Joe,—perhaps for no better reason in those early days than because the dear fellow let me love him.”

From A Tale of Two Cities:

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”

“Mr. Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.”

From The Old Curiosity Shop:

I had ever before me the old dark murky rooms – the gaunt suits of mail with their ghostly silent air – the faces all awry, grinning from wood and stone – the dust and rust and worm that lives in wood – and alone in the midst of all this lumber and decay and ugly age, the beautiful child in her gentle slumber, smiling through her light and sunny dreams.”

Happy birthday, Charles Dickens. Thank you for the books!

More on Charles Dickens:

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

5 Inspiring Life Lessons from David Copperfield

Why Charles Dickens?

5 Times Charles Dickens Gave Me Fairy Wings

This post was originally published on February 7, 2016

2 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Charles Dickens!

  1. Love this tribute to Dickens! And how cool: We almost have the same birthday!

    ….It would be even cooler if instead of that, I could say that I, too, have created enough characters to populate a medium-sized town, or written two awesome books at the same time. Sigh….

    1. Oh my gosh, he’s not allowed to be a standard by which any writer measures her/himself! I mean, some people think he may have been an alien…

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