Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1871) was one of the Victorian period’s most famous literary celebrities. Today, he is perhaps best known for his novels, many of which, such as Oliver Twist (1836-1837), David Copperfield (1849-51), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859), have been adapted repeatedly for both the stage and screen. He was also a playwright, performer, and tremendously successful journalist who ran and edited two popular magazines aimed at middle- and lower-middle class readers: Household Words (1851-59) and All the Year Round (1859-71). Between 1851 and 1867, Dickens devoted one journal issue per year to the subject of Christmas. Almost all of these Christmas stories were collaborative efforts, collections of stories commissioned and arranged by Dickens himself. He described this work not as editing so much as ‘conducting’ a narrative with friends and colleagues. The Wreck of the Golden Mary (1856) is one such ‘conducted’ Christmas story. Dickens eventually tired of these special Christmas issues and stopped producing them in 1868, but, in their heyday in the 1860s, they sold well into the quarter million range.