Sketches by Boz
Publication Date: May 1996
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Charles Dickens's Sketches by Boz foreshadows his novels in its profusion of characters, its glimpses of surreal modernity and its limitless fund of pathos and comic invention. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with notes and an introduction by Dennis Walder. Published under the pen-name 'Boz', Charles Dickens's first book Sketches by Boz (1836) heralded an exciting new voice in English literature. This richly varied collection of observation, fancy and fiction shows the London he knew so intimately at its best and worst - its streets, theatres, inns, pawnshops, law courts, prisons, omnibuses and the river Thames - in honest and visionary descriptions of everyday life and people. Through pen portraits that often anticipate characters from his great novels, we see the condemned man in his prison cell, garrulous matrons, vulgar young clerks and Scrooge-like bachelors, while Dickens's powers for social critique are never far from the surface, in unflinching depictions of the vast metropolis's forgotten citizens, from child workers to prostitutes. A startling mixture of humour and pathos, these Sketches reveal London as wonderful terrain for an extraordinary young writer. In his introduction, Dennis Walder discusses Dickens's social commentary, his view of London and his imaginative mixing of genres, and places the Sketches in the tradition of eighteenth and nineteenth-century reportage. This edition also includes the original illustrations by George Cruickshank, a chronology, further reading, appendices and notes. Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions. If you enjoyed Sketches by Boz, you might like Dickens's The Pickwick Papers, also available in Penguin Classics.
About the AuthorArguably one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens is the author of such literary masterpieces as A Tale of Two Cities (1859), A Christmas Carol (1843), David Copperfield (1850), and The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1839), among many others. Dickens' s indelible characters and timeless stories continue to resonate with readers around the world more than 130 years after his death. Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870.
Dennis Walder is Professor of Literature at the Open University and Founding Director of the Literature Department's Colonial and Post-Colonial Research Group. He has published widely on topics ranging from Dickens to V.S. Naipaul.
On Friday, February 7, 1812, the famous Victorian literature author, Charles John Huffam Dickens was born. Raised by parents John and Elizabeth, Charles began his life in a middle class home in the No. 1 mile end Terrace of Landport, Portsmouth, England. As a young boy, Dickens was taught to read by his mother and was formally educated between the ages of 9 and 15. Charles' father considered him to be a 'young prodigy.' He was often sent to tell stories to clerks at the navy pay office, where his father worked. At the age of 12, Dickens father was imprisoned for debt. As a means of helping his mother support his 7 brothers and sisters, Charles was removed from school and sent to work at a boot blacking factory. Earning very little money and surviving off of small portions of food, Charles was forced to live in the attic of a woman's home while the rest of his family resided in prison with their father. After his father was released from prison, Charles chose to continue his life in the work force and held jobs at a lawyer's office and also as a reporter. During his time as a reporter, Dickens' writing career began to lift off. His first published story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk, was printed when he was only 21 in Monthly Magazine in December of 1833. With a new career as an author, Dickens began to write numerous short stories and novels which were published in either weekly or monthly segments in newspapers and magazines. As he began to become more and more well known, Dickens chose the name "Boz" to sign his works. Later in his career, Charles met Catherine Hogarth and quickly fell in love. The two were wed on April 2nd, 1836. Although their relationship was not without its ups and downs, the pair had 10 children together. In 1858, Charles and Catherine separated, but they continued to live together until her death 20 years later. Throughout his career, Dickens wrote 15 novels and many short stories. Growing up in the height of the Industrial Revolution, many of Dickens' themes focused on the negative treatment of the poor in urban areas. Working at the boot blacking factory as a child seemed to be his most life-changing experience as many of his stories' themes reflect this particular time of his life.