By Charles Dickens
(Everyman's Library, Hardcover, 9780679405719, 1016pp.)
Publication Date: November 26, 1991
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When David Copperfield escapes from the cruelty of his childhood home, he embarks on a journey to adulthood which will lead him through comedy and tragedy, love and heartbreak and friendship and betrayal. Over the course of his adventure, David meets an array of eccentric characters and learns hard lessons about the world before he finally discovers true happiness.
Charles Dickens’s most celebrated novel and the author’s own favorite, David Copperfield is the classic account of a boy growing up in a world that is by turns magical, fearful, and grimly realistic.
In a book that is part fairy tale and part thinly veiled autobiography, Dickens transmutes his life experience into a brilliant series of comic and sentimental adventures in the spirit of the great eighteenth-century novelists he so much admired.
Few readers can fail to be touched by David’s fate, and fewer still to be delighted by his story. The cruel Murdstone, the feckless Micawber, the unctuous and sinister Uriah Heep, and David Copperfield himself, into whose portrait Dickens puts so much of his own early life, form a central part of our literary legacy.
This edition reprints the original Everyman preface by G. K. Chesterton and includes thirty-nine illustrations by Phiz.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
Charles Dickens was born in a little house in Landport, Portsea, England, on February 7, 1812. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. At age eleven, Dickens was taken out of school and sent to work in London backing warehouse, where his job was to paste labels on bottles for six shillings a week. His father John Dickens, was a warmhearted but improvident man. When he was condemned the Marshela Prison for unpaid debts, he unwisely agreed that Charles should stay in lodgings and continue working while the rest of the family joined him in jail. This three-month separation caused Charles much pain; his experiences as a child alone in a huge city–cold, isolated with barely enough to eat–haunted him for the rest of his life.
When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to school, after which he became an office boy, a freelance reporter and finally an author. With Pickwick Papers (1836-7) he achieved immediate fame; in a few years he was easily the post popular and respected writer of his time. It has been estimated that one out of every ten persons in Victorian England was a Dickens reader. Oliver Twist (1837), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) were huge successes. Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) was less so, but Dickens followed it with his unforgettable, A Christmas Carol (1843), Bleak House (1852-3), Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1855-7) reveal his deepening concern for the injustices of British Society. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) complete his major works.
Dickens’s marriage to Catherine Hoggarth produced ten children but ended in separation in 1858. In that year he began a series of exhausting public readings; his health gradually declined. After putting in a full day’s work at his home at Gads Hill, Kent on June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered a stroke, and he died the following day.
“David Copperfield [is] the most poetic of all Dickens’ novels . . . Not only was he revealing to his readers in the earlier chapters his ‘hard experiences in boyhood’ and his scorching first experience of passionate love, he was also sharing with them his own understanding of the roots of the art that had taken them by storm and to which they were in thrall even as they read about it.” –From the Introduction by Michael Slater