MARIA PLATT-EVANS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARIA PLATT-EVANS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Charles Dickens (1812-70), British writer and social critic. He was born in Portsmouth, but had little education as he was forced to start work in a factory when his father was sent to a debtor's prison. Nonetheless, Dickens wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and created some of the most memorable characters in written fiction. Works such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities epitomise the influence he had on subsequent generations of authors. He campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education and other social reforms, often weaving these into the complex plots of his works. The term 'Dickensian' was coined to reflect a mixture of poor social conditions and comically grotesque characters. He dies of a stroke in 1870 and was buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
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