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The Novels of Charles Dickens

The Novels of Charles Dickens
Portrait of Dickens © The Charles Dickens Museum, London

In Dickens’ will he left these instructions: "that my name be inscribed in plain English letters on my tomb. I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works..."

His last will and testament has been born out – not only does he have a simple memorial, but also none of his novels have so far vanished into obscurity, and so neither has Charles Dickens. And neither has his cast of characters or the worlds they inhabited. They all live on in remembrance in the nation’s psyche and his words have given us what we believe to be a ‘collective memory’ of Victorian England.

Aside from this emotional response, several of his novels are considered by critics and academics to be among the greatest English novels of all time – Bleak House, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby among them.

Many have been adapted into films such as A Christmas Carol (as Scrooge, 1951) and David Lean’s classics, Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948). Most recently, in 2007, Bleak House was adapted into a BBC TV series to great acclaim. The aim was to return Dickens to the broad audience he originally wrote for by presenting the story, not in big hour-long chunks, but in half-hour slots. This chimed well with how Dickens’ original readers would have encountered him and his writing.

The key thing to Dickens’ novels is that, when he wrote them, he was talking to the people, not the intelligentsia, and in doing so he found a place in the hearts of a nation.

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