Synopses & Reviews
This long-awaited biography, twenty years after the last major account, uncovers Dickens the man through the profession in which he excelled. Drawing on a lifetimeand#8217;s study of this prodigiously brilliant figure, Michael Slater explores the personal and emotional life, the high-profile public activities, the relentless travel, the charitable works, the amateur theatricals and the astonishing productivity. But the core focus is Dickensand#8217; career as a writer and professional author, covering not only his big novels but also his phenomenal output of other writing--letters, journalism, shorter fiction, plays, verses, essays, writings for children, travel books, speeches, and scripts for his public readings, and the relationships among them.
Slaterand#8217;s account, rooted in deep research but written with affection, clarity, and economy, illuminates the context of each of the great novels while locating the life of the author within the imagination that created them. It highlights Dickensand#8217; boundless energy, his passion for order and fascination with disorder, his organizational genius, his deep concern for the poor and outrage at indifference towards them, his susceptibility towards young women, his love of Christmas and fairy tales, and his hatred of tyranny.
Richly and precisely illustrated with many rare images, this masterly work on the complete Dickens, man and writer, becomes the indispensable guide and companion to one of the greatest novelists in the language.
"There is no shortage of doorstop biographies of Charles Dickens (1812 1870). This latest one by Slater, a Dickens scholar and professor emeritus at the University of London, bears an easy, fluid familiarity with the subject at hand. Scholars will appreciate the ingenuity with which the art was chosen. Above all, as the subtitle indicates, this work showcases the contours of Dickens's crammed life with the focus on his writings. And for these reasons, this biography will have primarily an academic appeal. But Slater superbly showcases Dickens's fascination with London life as it developed during his early teenage years; how the stage beckoned a man who was temperamentally a great parodist; why social issues and a refusal to kowtow to authority came to dominate the author's aesthetic families. But it was his startling affair with young actress Ellen (Nelly) Lawless Ternan, a story concealed until the 1930s, which defined Dickens's later life as much as his punishing reading tours did. Overall, this best known of English authors after Shakespeare gains a scholarly, levelheaded and even affecting new illumination of his writing life. 16 pages of color illus., 60 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Michael Slater is Emeritus Professor of Victorian Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is past president of the International Dickens Fellowship and of the Dickens Society of America, and the author of many books.