Charles John Huffman Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Landport, Portsmouth, England. He is regarded by many as being the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. He had little formal education, working in a factory at a young age, but developing a yearning to succeed.
In 1836, he wrote "The Pickwick Papers" and became a successful writer, writing a total of fifteen novels, as well as hundreds of short stories and articles. His novels were published in weekly serial format, a chapter at a time, thereby allowing him to alter story points to suit the readers as he went along.
In 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth with whom he would have a total of ten children. However, they separated in 1858, when Dickens began a thirteen year affair with actress Ellen Ternan, a woman 27 years his junior.
Dickens became a philanthropist, founding a home for more than 100 "fallen women.," crusading for children's rights and education reforms. In 1865, he was on board a train that plunged off a bridge. His was the only one of the eight cars that remained on the track, and he immediately aided the survivors in the wreckage.
On June 8, 1870, he was working on the sixth chapter of twelve, for his new novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" when he suffered a stroke, dying the next day at the age of 58, in Gad's Hill Place, Higham, Kent, England.