Christmas Stories

Christmas Stories

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Christmas Stories

Christmas Stories

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Excerpt

Charles Dickens was born in the little village of Landport, near Portsmouth, England, February 7, 1812. Four years later his parents moved to Chatham, and here in due time Charles was sent to a private school. He early developed a fondness for reading, and when only nine years old had read "Don Quixote," "Gil Blas," "Robinson Crusoe," and several of the early English novels. About this time, too, he made an attempt at original writing, his first effort being a tragedy based on one of the tales from the "Arabian Nights." This early work has no literary value, and is only of interest as foreshadowing the future author.

When Charles was ten years old, his father, who was a clerk in the pay office of the Navy, lost his position, and was arrested and imprisoned for debt. The boy, though so young, was placed in a blacking factory, where he pasted labels on the bottles of blacking. His life at this time was cheerless and wretched in the extreme, and he could never bear in after life to refer to this early bitter experience. After a time his father was released from prison, and secured a position as reporter on the "Morning Herald," but the family was still very poor. They now moved to Camden Town, and Charles was again placed at school. A few years later he left school and entered a lawyer's office as clerk, but he had no taste for this work, and taught himself shorthand, with the idea of becoming a journalist. At the age of seventeen he became a reporter at Doctors Commons, a court building of London. When he was twenty-two years old he succeeded in securing a position as reporter on the staff of the "Morning Chronicle" of London. His work required him to travel all over England, collecting items of news and writing up such incidents as are now telegraphed to the papers daily by local reporters. As there were no railroads at this time, he went by stage-coach from place to place, and in this way he mingled with the people and saw every phase of life. While thus engaged he began to contribute original papers to the "Monthly Magazine." These first sketches brought him no income, but they enabled him to arrange with the editor of the "Evening Chronicle" to write literary articles for that paper, while reporting for the "Morning Chronicle." His contributions to the "Evening Chronicle" were signed "Boz," and they were afterward collected and published as "Sketches by Boz." In March, 1836, the first number of "Pickwick Papers" appeared. These articles brought him fame and fortune, and he soon became the most popular writer of English fiction.

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