Top 20 Fun & Interesting Charles Dickens Facts
Looking for some fun facts about Charles Dickens? Don't get in a Twist! We have Great Expectations that you'll enjoy these novel facts!
Charles Dickens is one of the most famous novelists ever, and definitely the most popular of his time. Writing in Victorian England, Charles based lots of his stories on what was happening around him - and his work is full of honest depictions of people living through poverty. But that doesn't mean his books are all depressing, and as you'll find out he had a great sense of humour! Check our these interesting facts about Charles Dickens to find out more!
Looking for other cool facts? Check out these Ron Weasley facts, these Mary Poppins facts, or just these interesting facts!
1. Dickens kept pet ravens
Dickens was a big fan of these intelligent black birds. He kept several over the course of his life, and one that he named "Grip" was even supposedly the inspiration for Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven"!
2. He also kept cats
You might not think ravens and cats are a good mix, but this didn't stop Dickens having a close relationship with a feline friend. Dickens' famously said, “what greater gift than the love of a cat?” Good question.
3. Bob the cat
Dickens was very fond of one cat in particular, his beloved moggy Bob! When Bob eventually died he had one of his paws turned into a letter opener! What a tribute! You can now see Bob's paw on display at the New York public library. You know, if you fancy it.
4. Dickens had to work from a young age
Charles' family wasn't rich, and got into a lot of debt when he was young. So much so that all the adults in his family got sent to prison! So from age 12 Charles had to look after himself, and worked pasting labels onto tins of boot polish for 6 shillings a week. This definitely had an influence on his later work.
5. "Dickens" was originally a curse word
In Shakespeare's time, Dickens was a rude word that meant devil. So instead of saying "what the devil!", people would say "what the Dickens!" It's possible that Shakespeare himself came up with the phrase!
6. Dickens wrote under a fake name sometimes
Dickens' first works weren't published under his name, but an unusual pen name he chose - seemingly for a laugh! He wrote as "Boz" which is short for "Boses" - or how you would pronounce "Moses" if you had a blocked nose.
7. He was a hero!
Charles survived a train crash in Staplehurst, Kent! The train derailed and fell off a bridge, with only Charles' carriage still on the track. Heroically, Charles tended to the injured and brought them brandy and fresh water. He even went back into the train to get a half-finished script of a book he was working on!
8. He might have had epilepsy
We'll never know this one for sure, but many Dickens experts think he could have suffered from epileptic seizures. This is because we know Dickens based a lot of his stories on his own life, and many of his characters had epilepsy. His descriptions of the condition were also very accurate.
9. His last book is still a mystery
Dickens had got halfway through writing a new book when he died in 1870. The book itself is a murder mystery, and we'll never know who the killer was going to be. That hasn't stopped other writers picking up where he left off, and over the years there have been lots of different versions all with different endings.
10. He loved the Wild West
In 1842 Dickens went on a tour of the USA, and was taken out West to the American Prairie by his hosts. Apparently he was very impressed by the wilderness of the US at the time. Back then it was real wild west, and the settlers hadn't yet taken all the land from the Native Americans. Must've been an excting time for a holiday!
11. But he didn't like Washington DC!
Dickens didn't like everything he saw on holiday! He particularly disliked the capital city, and how everyone chewed tobacco all the time. He said the sight of Americans spitting tobacco juice everywhere was "very disagreeable". As usual, he was probably right!
12. He helped search for a lost expedition
When HMS Erebus and HMS Terror disappeared in the Arctic in 1845 whilst on an expedition, Charles helped fund the rescue mission and drummed up lots of public support for the lost crews. Unfortunately the sailors never made it back from the Arctic - and likely froze to death. Eeek!
13. His stories are full of cliffhangers!
Dickens published many of his books in newspapers, so he had to keep the audience on his toes (so they'd buy next weeks paper). To do this, Dickens built in lots of suspense to his stories and would usually end each installment with a cliffhanger. So when we read Dickens in a single book it's not really how he intended it - but it makes for an exciting read!
14. His writing inspiration was Little Red Riding Hood
One of Charles' favourite stories as a child was Little Red Riding Hood. And as an adult he even mentioned it as one of the things that made him want to start writing stories.
15. He invented lots of new words
Just like Shakespeare, Dickens has left us with a long list of great words that he invented. Just think of these: butter-fingers, flummox, the creeps, dustbin, ugsome, and even slangular! We're actually not sure what ugsome or slangular are, but they sound good!
16. He believed in ghosts
Like lots of Victorians, Dickens believed in ghosts and the supernatural. Which is not surprising seeing as how many ghosts are in his stories! Just think of A Christmas Carol! Dickens was even in a Ghost Club with Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle!
17. He wrote a few Christmas stories!
On the subject of A Christmas Carol, Dickens also wrote The Chimes, another Christmas story that actually has a very similar storyline. Unfortunately for The Chimes, only one would get a Muppets remake.
18. He had a secret room in his house!
Dickens had a secret door in his house! Like in a movie, he covered up the door with a fake bookcase. He even filled the shelves with fake books like "The Life of a Cat in 9 Volumes". Very funny, Charles.
19. He was a VERY successful writer
You probably know this but it's worth saying. Dickens produced a HUGE amount of work - he wrote 15 full novels, edited a journal, wrote hundreds of short stories, lectures, plays and thousands of letters! But it's the quality of his work as well as the quantity that really cemented his position as a literary legend.
20. He was buried in Westminster Abbey against his wishes!
Charles left clear instructions for what should happen to his body after he died. He wanted to be buried with family in Rochester. Unfortunately for him, the head of Westminster Abbey had other ideas, and when Charles died his body was taken to the Church and buried there in a big fancy ceremony - even though that was the opposite of what he wanted!