It was evening at the workhouse. Here, poor boys without families worked all day. But now, the boys stood in their places. The master of the workhouse put on a cook’s uniform. He stood behind a cooking pot. He and his assistants served dinner to the boys…Quickly, the food disappeared. Some of the boys spoke quietly to each other. They closed one eye and winked at Oliver. Then, the boys on each side of Oliver pushed him. Oliver was a terribly hungry child. His sadness made him wild. He stood up from the table. He walked forward to the master. He held his dinner bowl and spoon in his hand. He was a little afraid of his own courage. He said:
“Please, sir, I want some more.” “先生，请你给我。我还想多吃一点。”
This is the beginning of the famous story, Oliver Twist. It was written by one of England’s greatest writers, Charles Dickens, almost two hundred years ago. Even today, Dickens’ books are still very popular! Today’s article is on the writer Charles Dickens.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812. As a small boy, Charles had a happy life. He had many younger brothers and sisters. He went to school. And he loved to read.
But when Dickens was eleven, his life changed. His family was living in London at the time. They began to have financial problems. His father could not pay the family’s bills. Finally, authorities sent his family to a special prison for people with debt.
Charles Dickens did not go to the prison with the rest of his family. Because he was older, he lived on his own. He had to support himself. So, he left school. He worked in a factory. And he made very little money. The work was hard, and he was lonely. This time in Dickens’ life affected him very much.
After two years, Charles Dickens’ situation changed again. His grandmother died. She left money for Dickens’ family. It was enough money to pay the family’s bills. The rest of the Dickens’ family left prison, and Charles left the factory.
A few years later, Dickens began working again. This time, he chose to work. He was 15 years old and he began working for a court official. Soon, Dickens’ began writing for newspapers and magazines. He also began writing stories. In April 1836, he published his first book called the Pickwick Papers. This book was very successful. But it was only the first of many of Dickens’ stories.
During his life, Dickens published fifteen books, and hundreds of short stories. He also continued his work as a news reporter. Everyone in England knew Charles Dickens. He was a famous celebrity. People even paid money to see him read the most exciting parts of his books. And people bought many, many copies of his books.
Dickens was extremely successful during his life. However, his fame did not end when he died. Even today, people continue to read and love his writing.
Readers love Dickens’ books for many reasons. They are exciting and funny. They contain interesting mysteries and problems to solve. But the thing people love most about Dickens’ stories is his characters. Dickens created characters that seem very real. The characters struggle with problems that people continue to understand even today. People also easily remember Dickens’ characters because of their unusual names - like Wackford Squeers, Ebenezer Scrooge, or Mr. Mickawber.
读者喜爱狄更斯的书，有许多原因。内容非常扣人心弦，也非常好笑。里面有许多有趣，并需要解决的悬疑和问题。但最让人喜爱他故事的原因，乃是他笔下的人物。他所创造出的人物非常真实。这些人物所面对的挣扎和问题，即使活在今日的人也能认同。同时，也因着这些人物的名字奇特，像Wackford Squeers, Ebenezer Scrooge, or Mr. Mickawber，让人印象深刻。
Dickens got his ideas for characters from many places. Many of his characters were based on people he knew in life. Dickens used his father as a model for characters with money problems. His own experience of being alone as a child appears in many of his books. The most famous example was his character Oliver Twist.
However, some of Dickens’ characters came completely from his imagination. Dickens’ often had trouble sleeping. So he would walk through the city all night. Claire Tomalin wrote a book about Dickens. She told the news organization NPR,
“He did these great walks. He would walk every day for many kilometres. Sometimes I think he was feeding his imagination as he walked. He was thinking of his characters. And he built his stories through the voices of his characters.”
Dickens’ books were also popular because they showed the social conditions of England during his time. It was a time when many people were moving from farms to cities. He wrote about the problems of city life - including crime, bad health, and factory work. His stories also showed the terrible effects of poverty, and debt.
Dickens was concerned about poor and forgotten people in society. He knew what it was like to be a poor boy like Oliver Twist. So, he wanted to write to influence society and politics. But Dickens also worked to directly help the poor and forgotten. After he became wealthy, he opened schools for children and young women.
In 1870, Charles Dickens died. He was 58 years old. The English government honoured Dickens by burying him in Westminster Abbey. Here, he is buried among kings, leaders and many of England’s greatest writers.
In 2012, England celebrated Dickens’ two hundredth birthday. Many famous people attended celebrations for him, including the Prince of Wales. In a letter he wrote for the celebration, the Prince said:
“Charles Dickens remains one of the greatest writers of the English language. He used his creativity to work intensely for social justice…His characters are as alive and real today, as they were on the day he wrote them.”
It has been almost two hundred years since Dickens last wrote. However, he continues to encourage both readers and writers. Simon Callow is a famous English actor, musician, writer and director. In the Guardian newspaper, he wrote an article called “My Hero: Charles Dickens.” In it, he explains Dickens’ lasting appeal,
“This is the reason I love Dickens so deeply. He experienced the deep pain of poverty and suffering. Because of this, he never stopped working to bring justice to a broken society. He gave the forgotten and the poor a voice. From the moment he started to write, he spoke for the people. The people love him for it. And so do I.”
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