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Charles Dickens Death Anniversary: Lesser-known Facts About the Celebrated Author

Charles Dickens Death Anniversary (Shutterstock)

Charles Dickens Death Anniversary (Shutterstock)

On his death anniversary, we list a few lesser-known facts about the literary genius.

Iconic novelist of his century, Charles Dickens, often referred to as the archetypal Victorian author, who wrote about all the best and worst times of England in the era. His work was not limited to fiction and encompassed other relevant issues including poverty, injustice and crime, almost always with a twist of humour.

Not someone who was afraid to speak his mind, Dickens gave some of the most captivating Christmas stories that are still regarded to be masterpieces. Author of popular short stories and novels such as Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist, he created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters.

Dickens’ work has stood the test of time even though he lived in a completely different era. Today, on his death anniversary, we list a few lesser-known facts about the literary genius.

1. Dickens had a secret door in his house

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His home had a secret door in his study in the form of a fake bookcase. The bookshelf had fake book titles that were all made up by Dickens himself. The secret door led to the most preserved room in his house and inside it was a Batman costume from the Victorian era.

2. Dickens’ wife, Catherine, was also an author

There was more than one writer in the Dickens family. The author’s wife, Catherine, wrote and published a book in 1851. Just like Dickens, she wrote under a pseudonym Lady Maria Clutterbuck. Her book was on cooking recipes and was titled ‘What shall we have for dinner?’

3. Dickens had a pet raven

Dickens named his raven Grip. Not only was Grip a beloved pet but also got featured in one of Dickens’ novels, Barnaby Rudge. Dickens had always wanted to write about a character who owned a raven. Grip ate lead paint chips which caused his death. He was replaced by another pet raven, who was also named Grip.

4. He resented a large family

Dickens seemed to have healed from his split with his first love, Maria Beadnell but his marriage to Catherine was not a happy one. The couple had 10 children and Dickens often blamed Catherine for not being a good mother. They both, however, came from large families. Catherine had 10 siblings while Dickens had 8 siblings.

5. His name might have been about the devil

Shakespeare used the “what the dickens,” phrase in a fiction work, The Merry Wives of Windsor. He was the first one to use the phrase which was meant to be a euphemism for conjuring the devil. Another author, John Bowen, explained in his book that the name Dickens was used as a cover for the devil. Dickens might have had a fair idea about this as he used Boz as his pen name in his early writing career.

6. Dickens always had furniture and other items arranged in a particular order

Although not proven, it is believed that Dickens had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD). He would always rearrange furniture in any place he stayed in. It is also held that he would inspect his children’s bedrooms to point out if it was untidy. Dickens wanted everything around him to be in order.

7. He started working at a very young age

Dickens left to work in a factory when he turned 12 after his father was sent to prison. One of his earliest jobs was to fix labels on pots of bootblacking in a factory in London. He earned 6 shillings a week and later wrote an account of his experience.

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first published:June 09, 2021, 11:55 IST