Dickens life spanned the reign of four English monarchs. When he was born, in 1812, the King of England was George 3rd. By the time of his death in 1870, Queen Victoria had reigned for 40 years and the 19th century had lodged in most people minds and memories as the “Victorian age.” It was during her reign that Dickens rose from his humble beginnings and crested the heights of fame and fortune, so much so that, by the time of his death, he had become, and in many ways still remains, the second most famous Victorian, after the Queen herself.
His life was, most certainly, an eventful one that equaled many of his own storylines in its highs and lows, its dramas and its tragedies. To this day he remains one of those few historical figures whose surname is sufficient as a means of identification, so much so that mere mention of the name “Dickens” will draw enthusiastic nods of acknowledgment no matter where in the World it is spoken.
Not bad for a man whose start in life was far from ideal. Charles Dickens was born in the Landport suburb of Portsmouth on Friday 7th February 1812. The house he was born in, 13 Mile End Terrace, is now the Dickens Birthplace Museum and is today furnished, more or less as it would have been at the time of his birth. The Charles Dickens Birthplace in Portsmouth. Dickens was christened on 4th March 1812 at St Mary’s church and was named Charles, after his maternal grandfather, Charles Barrow; John, after his father, John Dickens; and Huffham, after Christopher Huffam (the parish clerk misspelt the surname),who was a London friend of his father.
Dickens first came to London in January 1815 when John was transferred to The Navy Pay Office then located at Somerset House on Strand. As the three year old boy absorbed the sights, smells and sounds of the City, and his family settled into life in the Capital, no one could have known that, in later life, the name of Charles
Dickens would become synonymous with London, and that he was destined to become the undisputed chronicler of its streets, buildings and people.
By 1830 the then eighteen year old Dickens had met with and fallen head over heels in love with a City banker’s daughter by the name of Maria Beadnell.
Until tomorrow: I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.