Sketches by Boz
Publication Date: May 1, 1996
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Sketches by Boz collected a rich and strange mixture of reportage, observation, fancy and fiction centred on the metropolis. It was Dickens's first book, published when he was twenty-four, and in it we find him walking the London streets, in theatres, pawnshops, law-courts, prisons, along the Thames, and on the omnibus, missing nothing, recording and transforming urban and suburban life into new terrain for literature.
Sketches is a remarkable achievement, and looks towards Dickens's giant novels in its profusion of characters, its glimpses of surreal modernity and its limitless fund of pathos and comic invention.
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.
Walter Bagehot once remarked, Dickens wrote about London "like a special correspondent for posterity".
"The first sprightly runnings of his genius are undoubtedly here," wrote Dickens’s friend and biographer John Forster.