Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, in England. He was the second of seven children. A sickly child he read books instead of playing with the other children. When Charles was ten years old, his father, John Dickens, moved the family to London. The family debts had become so great that their personal possessions were sold, and Charles was forced to leave school. In February 1824, John Dickens was put in debtor’s prison, and Charles, now twelve, began working at the Warren Blacking Factory gluing labels on bottles of shoe blacking.
Dickens’s writing career started at age fifteen. Through his own experience, he had developed a sincere concern for the poor and disadvantaged – especially children. Through his writing he helped his countrymen become aware of the effects of an industrialized society on all people. By February of 1836, his first collection of stories, Sketches by Boz was published. With its publication, Dickens’ career as a writer was confirmed.
A Christmas Carol was published in 1843 Dickens completed this book in a few weeks. Its simple message –keeping the Christmas spirit throughout the year has made the story a timeless world classic. After the book’s publication, the Christmas cards were sold. Decorating trees and celebrating with family feasts became typical activities. Dickens’ connection with Christmas was so great that when he died in 1870, people wondered if Christmas celebrations would also end.
Having always enjoyed acting and entertaining, Dickens began a series of public readings in 1858, always including A Christmas Carol in his performances. The readings were so popular that people paid $26.00 for a $2.00 ticket at his American debut. Unfortunately, these performances were also physically demanding. His final reading tour was abandoned when he collapsed in April 1869. He died suddenly and was buried in Westminster Abbey.