1. Dickens Liked to Party
Upon getting his first job at the Morning Chronicle, which paid five guineas a week for reporting, Dickens’s first impulse was to have a housewarming party.
2. He Had Girl Issues
At his coming-of-age party, Dickens’s crush, Maria, apparently insulted him, though without being aware of how deeply, by telling him that he was a boy. Her words “scorched [his] brain.”
3. He Could Dance until He Dropped
By February 1842, Dickens had arrived in America, and danced quadrilles until he was “no longer able even to stand” at the Boz Ball in New York.
4. He Broke Up Fights between Victorian Literary Heavyweights
When Thackeray and biographer John Forster wouldn’t talk to each other after Forster called Thackeray’s book “wicked,” Dickens agreed to carry letters back and forth between the two to keep the peace.
5. He Was More Than a Little Intrigued By Death
Dickens considered death “the ultimate, most threatening mystery,” according to Kaplan. He could often be found visiting the morgue, curiously looking at corpses. Dickens wrote: “Whenever I am at Paris, I am dragged by invisible force into the Morgue.”
6. He May Have Had Too Many Children
Dickens’s wife, Catherine, may have been a bigger fan of children than her husband was. When his ninth child was born, Dickens was working on David Copperfield and became obsessed with killing his new daughter’s fictional namesake: “I have still Dora to kill—I mean the Copperfieldian Dora.” A little creepy, Charles.
7. He Liked to Indulge a Little
According to Kaplan, “At the office, he smoked cigarettes insatiably. At home or with friends, he smoked cigars. Alcohol appealed to him in the form of wine with dinner, champagne at celebrations, and, after dinner, port, sherry, or brandy to punctuate good fellowship.”
8. He Was Not Easily Impressed by Foreign Places
Discussing his dissatisfaction with the Isle of Wight, Dickens ranted: “Naples is hot and dirty, New York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting, Paris rainy—but Bonchurch, smashing. I am quite convinced that I should die here, in a year. It’s not hot, it’s not close, I don’t know what it is, but the prostration of it is awful.”
9. He Was Courageous under Pressure
When his train ran off the tracks between Dover and London, Dickens heroically evacuated the train car he had been riding in, and tirelessly worked for three hours to try to rescue the injured and dying in the ravine below.
10. He Was Extraordinarily Close with His Sister-in-Law, Mary
In fact, Mary Scott Hogarth’s death remained the only event in Dickens’s life that prompted a break in a writing commitment.
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