The Selected Letters of Charles Dickensby Jenny Hartley
What was it like to be Charles Dickens? His letters are the nearest we can get to a Dickens autobiography: vivid close-up snapshots of a life lived at maximum intensity. This is the first selection to be made from the magisterial twelve-volume British Academy Pilgrim Edition of his letters. From over fourteen thousand, four hundred and fifty have been
What was it like to be Charles Dickens? His letters are the nearest we can get to a Dickens autobiography: vivid close-up snapshots of a life lived at maximum intensity. This is the first selection to be made from the magisterial twelve-volume British Academy Pilgrim Edition of his letters. From over fourteen thousand, four hundred and fifty have been cherry-picked to give readers the best essence of 'the Sparkler of Albion'.
Dickens was a man with ten times the energy of ordinary mortals. There seem to have been twice the number of hours in his day, and he threw himself into letter-writing as he did into everything else. This eagerly awaited selection takes us straight to the heart of his life, to show us Dickens at first hand. Here he is writing out of the heat of the moment: as a novelist, journalist, and magazine editor; as a social campaigner and traveller in Europe and America, and as friend, lover, husband, and father.
Reading and writing letters punctuated the rhythms of Dickens's day. 'I walk about brimful of letters', he told a friend. He claimed to write 'at the least, a dozen a day'. Sometimes it was a chore but more often a pleasure: an outlet for high spirits, sparkling wit, and caustic commentary - always as seen through his highly individual and acutely observing eye.
Whether you dip in or read straight through, this selection of his letters creates afresh the brilliance of being Dickens, and the sheer pleasure of being in his company.
"Biographies and other celebratory works have arrived with the bicentennial of Dickens's birth...this collection of several hundred letters may be the best." Starred review in Publishers Weekly
"An absolute gem ... Reads better than any actual novel Dickens ever wrote." Open Letters Monthly
"This is the book we have all been waiting for...I do not think anyone could have made a more balanced selection from the embarrassment of riches in his letters, or justified her choices more persuasively. We are all in Professor Hartley's debt for her magnificent edition." Catherine Peters, Dickens Quarterly
"Hartley's selections nicely capture the range of Dicken's epistolary moods serious, playful, sentimental, indignant and the breadth of his literary and extraliterary interests and friendships." Recent Studies in the Nineteenth Century
- Oxford University Press
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- 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
Jenny Hartley, Professor of English Literature, Roehampton University
Jenny Hartley is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. She is the author of two books on British women's writing from the Second World War, and The Reading Groups Book, a pioneering survey of reading groups. Her most recent book, Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, published by Methuen in 2008, was picked Guardian 'Book of the Week' and described as 'brilliant' by Claire Tomalin. For the last ten years she has been a leading member of the Prison Reading Groups project.
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