Charles DickensCharles Dickens was born on February 7 1812, and lived the first nine years of his life in Kent, UK. His father was a likeable man, however he was incompetent with money and piled up huge debts. At nine years old, his family moved to London, and after three years, his father was arrested and taken to debtors’ prison.

Early Years

Dickens’s mother moved his seven brothers and sisters into prison with their father but arranged for Charles to live alone outside the prison. He had to work with other children doing a tough job in a blacking warehouse, pasting labels on bottles. These three months were highly traumatic for Dickens, and his job was miserable.

After his father was released from prison, Dickens returned to school. After leaving he tried his hand professionally as a law clerk and then a court reporter before becoming a novelist. The Pickwick Papers was his first novel and became a huge popular success when he was only twenty-five - He had become a celebrity throughout England already. After a failed relationship Dickens married Catherine Hogarth. Although they had ten children, Dickens was never completely happy in this marriage, and they eventually separated.

Due to his experience working in a factory as a child he retained a deep interest in and concern for the plight of the poor. Victorian England had massive economic turmoil as the Industrial Revolution sent shock waves through the established order. The gap between the rich and poor grew even greater as factory owners exploited their employees. Workers had to work long hours for low pay in cramped, dirty, loud, and dangerous factories making things like everyday consumables, furniture and industrial components. They lacked education and job skills and they had few options for improving their terrible living and working conditions.

With feeling he obtained from his own experience of poverty, Dickens became involved with a number of organisations that strived to alleviate the horrible living conditions of the poor people of London. He helped organise projects to clear up the slums and build clean, safe, low cost housing for the neediest. He was far too brilliant a novelist to become a propagandist or politician. But Dickens used his works to focus attention on the hardship of the poor and attempted to create awareness.

Hard Times

Hard Times said it all - Set in the industrial smokestacks and factories of Coketown, England, the novel used its characters and stories to show the huge gulf between the rich and poor. Hard Times depicted that nineteenth-century England had turned into an industrial factory machine with the middle class only concerned with making a profit in the most efficient and practical way possible.

In Hard Times, a simple book to understand with understanding of human existence, Dickens hammered home his point with vicious, often hilarious satire and sentimental melodrama.

Other books written by Charles Dickens

Other popular titles include Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations, all of which have repeatedly found a secondary audience in the local playhouse, theatre, cinema and on television. Characters such as Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller, Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Sikes, Little Nell, Scrooge and Tiny Tim, Mr Pecksniff, Mrs Gamp, Uriah Heep, and Mr Micawber are still known world-wide.

Editor's Note: 'HARD TIMES' dictates that this article is not finished! It probably never will be. But to help me to get somewhere near to the conclusion your help would be much appreciated!

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