Try to imagine a world if Charles Dickens had not been born 200 years ago today. Think of all those characters and the phrases associated with them, often referred to in ordinary conversation, that would have to be replaced:
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds
six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual
pounds ought and six, result misery.
Think about those characters whose names became household words or gave rise to things now enshrined in popular culture:
Other authors could not always leave Dickens alone:
Who can listen to objections regarding such a book as this? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness
Anthony Trollope satirised Dickens as 'Mr Popular Sentiment' in The Warden.
Certainly Dickens detractors have criticised him for illustrating problems without proposing curative measures. But the mere fact he alerted Victorian Britain to its shortcomings meant others like Lord Salisbury picked up the baton and ran with it [Olympic metaphor in 2012] to lobby for and make the parliamentary changes.
Many biographical facts about Dickens are known now, thanks to the biographies written in the years since his death in 1870, which were unknown in his lifetime. F'r instance we now know that his childhood was not as happy as it could have been due to his father's 'liberality' with money [like Mr Micawber] and how Dickens was set to work in a factory at a very early age. This was a secret which Dickens guarded during his lifetime. We also are led to believe that Dickens was not a good husband and father, certainly he had a least one mistress in Ellen Ternan. However the affair with Ellen seems to have been a real love affair. When judging Dickens we should try to do it with 19th century eyes and taking all facts into consideration!
So I want to thank you Mr Dickens if you are listening to me for all the pleasure you have given me with your writings over the years so far. I miss you and may you sleep gently.
Dickens on the Victorian Web