It made him a great writer of repute. In Pickwick and Sam Weller, two characters of the novel, Charles Dickens created the greatest comedy team of literature. Within a few years other masterpieces such as, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, and ‘Barnaby Rudge’ were brought out which won him both fame and money. His next works were ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’. The former was not so successful while the latter became very popular in England.
The character called Scrooge of ‘A Christmas Carol’ caught people’s attention. In the years that followed he wrote ‘Dombey and son’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Bleak House’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Little Dorrit’, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘Edwin Drood’. Of the above, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘Great Expectations’ won him international acclaim. According to many ‘Great Expectations’ is his greatest work and reveals his essential traits as a writer. ‘David Copperfield’ written between 1849 and 1850 is said to be a portrait of Charles Dickens’ own early childhood.
In 34 years Charles Dickens wrote about 15 books and every one of them became best sellers. Some of his characters such as, Fagin, Uriah Keep, Micawber, Pecknife, Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Little Nell, etc. became household names. The public readings of his works became the most favourite pastime of English people.
His works brought him immense fortune and made him a rich man. Even when he became a wealthy international celebrity with a staff of servants and a country estate, he never forgot the horrors of his own impoverished boyhood or ceased fighting the oppression of the poor and the downtrodden. To the end, he remained a radical crusader against the abuses suffered by the poor.
The single personal quality that runs like a bright thread through the fabric of Dickens’ life and writing is the profound concern for fellow human beings. Their plight, concerns and suffering touched his heart and these became the central pivots around which he built his stories. This is the trait which has attracted me most to Charles Dickens and made me choose him, as my favourite author. When Charles Dickens died in 1870 he was only 58 and it is generally believed that he worked himself to death.
Many observers feel that it was a slow suicide caused by over-work, the pangs of an unhappy marriage and the despair at seeing growing inequality in society. Whatever be its cause to the world it was a staggering loss. Refusing to abide by his wish for a simple burial, he was buried at Westminster Abbey, a rare privilege given only to kings, queens and best men and women of England.
The British knew that there never had been and never would be, another writer like him. They, therefore, gave him a befitting funeral and a memorable place to lie in peace.