Today is the 200th anniversary of my favorite writer, Charles Dickens. Few writers in the English language have had as lasting influence and effect as him. From the laugh-out-loud escapades of Samuel Pickwick in his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, to the clear-eyed depiction of the dehumanization that occurs in debtors’ prison in Little Dorrit, no one was better than Dickens at capturing the little details of daily life that make even the humblest person worthy of respect and attention.
So many wonderful characters he created are part of our common cultural experience: Scrooge, Sam Weller, Oliver Twist, Pecksniff, Pip, David Copperfield, Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Squeers, Mrs. Jellyby, Sairey Gamp, the list goes on and on. Do yourself a favor and pick up a Dickens novel. I’d recommend Great Expectations if you’ve never read anything by him before. The Pickwick Papers is probably the most fun of his works. A lot of Dickens fans like Dombey and Son best, but Our Mutual Friend, his last complete novel, is my favorite. If you have a Kindle, you can get his complete works for less than 3 bucks!
Here’s a small gallery of some of his most memorable characters: