For the character of Little Nell, the beautiful child thrown into a shadowy, terrifying world, Dickens drew on a tragedy in his own life, the death at the age of seventeen of his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth. Five years later he wrote, 'the desire to be buried next her is as strong upon me now ... and I know (for I don't think there ever was love like that I bear her) that it will never diminish.'
The sorrows of Nell and her grandfather are offset by Dickens's creation of a dazzling contemporary world inhabited by some of his most brilliantly drawn characters -- the eloquent ne'er-do-well Dick Swiveller; the hungry maid known as the 'Marchioness'; the mannish lawyer Sally Brass; Quilp's brow-beaten mother-in-law, and Quilp himself, the lustful, vengeful dwarf, whose demonic energy makes a vivid counterpoint to Nell's purity.
About the Author
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.
Table of Contents
|A Dickens Chronology||vii|
|A Note on the Text||xxxi|
|The Old Curiosity Shop||1|