Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was the greatest novelist of the Victorian age. In his 58 years he went from a hardscrabble childhood to a world-famous author, beloved and admired for his unforgettable characters, his powers of observation and empathy, and his championing of the lower classes. He wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of articles and short stories – and also found time to edit a weekly periodical for over 20 years. But that wasn’t all: he also wrote thousands of pages of letters, ran a sizable household, was a tireless reformer, a philanthropist, an amateur theatrical performer, a lecturer, and a traveler, and at times walked 14 miles a day. And he had secrets in his personal life that are still being unearthed today.
How on earth did he get all this done? How was he viewed by his contemporaries? And what do we make of his novels – and his life – today?
For more on Dickens’ classic work A Christmas Carol, try Episode 72 – Top 10 Christmas Stories
For a look at the sentimental in fiction, try Episode 65 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (with Professor James Chandler)
Does Dickens make you hungry? We explore the phenomenon in Episode 144 – Food in Literature (with Ronica Dhar)
What was Dickens’s favorite book? Find out in Episode 41 – The New Testament (with Professor Kyle Keefer)
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Radha Vatsal, author of Murder Between the Lines: A Kitty Weeks Mystery, joins Jacke for a discussion of intrepid “girl” reporters in 1910s New York City and the books that likely influenced them. Authors discussed include Henry James, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Elizabeth Gaskell, and the wide range of scientific and pseudoscientific works describing New York City, journalism, and the role of education for women.
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“Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).