Publication Date: 04/06/2020 ISBN: 9781786497918 Category:

The Mystery of Charles Dickens

A. N. Wilson

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication Date: 04/06/2020 ISBN: 9781786497918 Category:




A Book of the Year in The Times & Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Spectator, Irish Times and TLS.

‘Superb’ Daily Mail, ‘Book of the Week’

‘Brilliant’ The Times, ‘Book of the Week’

‘[A] vivid, detailed account’ Guardian, ‘Book of the Week’

‘Hugely enjoyable’ Daily Telegraph

‘Fascinating’ Spectator

Charles Dickens was a superb public performer, a great orator and one of the most famous of the Eminent Victorians. Slight of build, with a frenzied, hyper-energetic personality, Dickens looked much older than his fifty-eight years when he died. Although he specified an unpretentious funeral, it was inevitable that crowds flocked to his open grave in Westminster Abbey. Experiencing the worst and best of life during the Victorian Age, Dickens was not merely the conduit through whom some of the most beloved characters in literature came into the world. He was one of them.

Filled with twists, pathos and unusual characters, The Mystery of Charles Dickens looks back from the legendary writer’s death to recall the key events in his life. In doing so, A. N. Wilson seeks to understand Dickens’s creative genius and enduring popularity. Following him from cradle to grave, it becomes clear that Dickens’s fiction drew from his own experiences – a fact he acknowledged. Like Oliver Twist, Dickens suffered a wretched childhood, then grew up to become not only a respectable gentleman but an artist of prodigious popularity. Dickens knew firsthand the poverty and pain his characters endured, including the scandal of a failed marriage.

Going beyond standard narrative biography, Wilson brilliantly revisits the wellspring of Dickens’s vast and wild imagination, revealing why his novels have such instantaneous appeal and why they continue to resonate today. He also uncovers the double standards of both the man and his times.

Publisher Review

Beyond the eye-opening analysis, Wilson also offers a moving personal account of why Dickens has meant so much to him * Booklist (starred review) * Utterly satisfying... A marvelous exploration by an author steeped in the craft of his subject's elastic, elusive work. * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) * Enthralling... In each section, themes and ideas spool out with Wilson's characteristic fluency and narrative flair. He both loves and is appalled by Dickens * Literary Review * A wonderfully fresh and vivid account, fluently integrating life and work, teasingly constructed without being relentlessly chronological, and personally charged by an impassioned gratitude to Dickens... Wilson's unquenchable gusto, sharp critical intelligence and buoyant prose make compelling reading - a vindication not so much of the mystery of Charles Dickens as the miracle. * The Telegraph * A sprightly retelling of a well-known narrative... vivid, detailed. * Guardian, 'Book of the Week' * A brilliant denunciation of the sickness of Victorian England.[Wilson] is especially vivid on the moral horror of a self-confident, capitalist society without a safety net for those at the bottom. * The Times, 'Book of the Week' * Fascinating... The greatest compliment one could pay this book is to say that it doesn't only read like something written about Dickens; animated by a restless, rummaging critical intelligence, and a curiosity about many of the things others simply take for granted, at times it reads more like something written by Dickens. * Spectator * Hugely enjoyable... A wonderfully fresh and vivid account... Wilson's unquenchable gusto, sharp critical intelligence and buoyant prose make compelling reading. * Daily Telegraph * Delightful, riveting... In this superb book, [Wilson] has succeeded in prising open the layers and revealing the inner child inside Charles Dickens. * Daily Mail, 'Book of the Week' *

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