It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Happy Birthday to Charles Dickens, who, were he still alive, would clock in at 199 today!

Among his books are A Tale of Two Cities, from which the title of this post originates, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, of course the nearly ubiquitous A Christmas Carol and so many others. Many of his books began life serialized in monthly magazines, and made frequent use of the ‘cliffhanger’ to bring audiences back for the next installment.

An early philanthropist, in 1846 he partnered with Angela Burdett Coutts in establishing a home for ‘fallen’ women. Unlike other such institutions of the day, which seemed to have been more punitive in their treatment of the women, the goal of this house was to help rehabilitate the women, teach them to read, write, and domestic chores, and reintegrate them into society. Dickens himself interviewed prospective candidates for residence, and ultimately 100 women ‘graduated’ from this house.

And in other news

Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall Adventures series of childrens’ books about a courageous mouse and his adventures, along with many other works, passed away Saturday at the age of 71. RIP, Mr. Jacques.

9 thoughts on “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

  1. He’s given us some of the most memorable characters in literature: Jacob Marley and Scrooge, Miss Havisham and Estella, Oliver! I enjoy his writing, but the style is of course very different from a popular novel of today. If you get around to it, maybe start out with A Tale of Two Cities.


    1. I concur – Tale of 2 Cities is actually quite a quick read, and it’s as good as everyone says it is. I’ll bet you can get a copy for next to nothing online (or for nothing at the public library, for that matter. But it is the sort of book you’ll be glad to own, I’ll bet)


  2. I have a lovely matched set of hardcovers of several of his books, ToTC, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations… and I forget which other ones. It’s not all of his books, just five of the best-known. Interestingly, Gillian Anderson (Scully on The X-Files) takes a lot of roles in arty movies, and played Lady Dedlock in a tv mini-series production of Bleak House. (slightly off-topic, she was quite good as Lily Bart in Wharton’s “The House of Mirth”)


  3. That’s wonderful- the work Dickens did to help people.

    I’ve never been able to get into any of his books, though. They all sound so good. So I try different ones periodically, and each time I end up putting it down. And you know what a 19th c. lit junkie I am! But I figure Dickens has enough fans that he’s not crying over disappointing me. 😉

    On another note, rest in peace Jacques.


  4. Oh, I know. That’s why I keep trying him. He’s one of those authors I wished I liked. His characters always sound so unforgettable. When I try him again, I’ll let you know. 🙂


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