For the first time, Dickens: My Life presents a continuous narrative of Charles Dickens' life told entirely in his own words.
'Just two days after my twelfth birthday, in an evil hour for me, I was sent out to work to Warren's blacking warehouse at Hungerford Stairs. Its wainscoted rooms and its rotten floors and staircase, with the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling rise up visibly before me as if I were there again.'
The story of Charles Dickens' life is all the more remarkable for the hardships he suffered as a child. Yet somehow, through a combination of drive, determination and innate literary genius, he survived these difficult beginnings to become, by the age of just 25, both a household name and publishing phenomenon.
Dickens' literary success took him into a different world - of Victorian celebrity, of international travel and sell-out book tours - but he never forgot where his journey began. And even at the height of his achievements, he had to deal with financial, family and marital problems; he was fortunate to survive the Staplehurst train crash and struggled constantly against debilitating illness.
Dickens considered writing his own life story but died suddenly at the age of 58 without having done so. Now, drawing on over 15,000 letters, diaries, articles, speeches, stories and other writings, Derwin Hope has assembled an extraordinary jigsaw to produce this alternative: offering readers, for the first time, a continuous narrative of Charles Dickens' life told entirely in his own words.
For all of us who have read and loved Dickens, this book offers a unique insight into one of literature's greatest figures, revealing both his glories and struggles in a telling as extraordinary as any of the fiction he created.