Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens

Today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.  Arguably, he is one of the best authors of the last 200 years.  Dickens has more books on the high school A/P reading list than any other author.  He is one of my favorite authors, and I wrote about him last year here.

Most of us are very familiar with A Christmas Carol and Ebeneezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, but my favorite Dickens’ novel is A Tale of Two Cities.  My kids prefer Great Expectations.

I think the common denominator and the reason Dickens stories have withstood the test of time is the social commentary that is part of much of his writing.  He was concerned about social reform, the conditions of working class people, and the hardships of the poor.  Many of his books brought these topics to the forefront and made him a popular author even while he was alive.

A printed epitaph circulated at the time of his funeral read, “To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England’s most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years.  He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England’s greatest writers is lost to the world.”

I think that is why he continues to resonate with readers today as we continue to struggle with issues of rich versus poor – issues which continue to be particularly relevant in this election year in our country.

Westminster Abbey, December 2011. 

Charles Dickens is buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey along with many other notable authors, poets, playwrights, and musicians.  I visited Westminster Abbey and Poets’ Corner when I went to London.  Made my spine tingle.

Picture taken my first night in London.  Not a famous spot.  Just liked the fact that it recognized Dickens.

If it’s been awhile (like since high school or college) since you’ve read a Dickens novel, I strongly encourage you to pick one to read.  It’s interesting how different you will feel about reading or re-reading something after time has passed.

Picture of Charles Dickens from Wikipedia.

Happy 200th Birthday Charles John Huffam Dickens!

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