Charles Dickens

Born: February 7, 1812
Died: June 9, 1870,

Occupation: Author

Challenges overcome: Epilepsy

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Charles Dickens is a writer who created some of the world’s well-known characters and is considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era.

Born in Portsmouth, Dickens was deprived of a full education due to his family being imprisoned for debt, and was left to work in a blackening factory for three years before returning to school. Despite his lack of a full formal education, Charles wrote 15 novels, edited a weekly journal for 20 years, lectured and performed extensively, and also campaigned relentlessly for children’s and education rights.

He began his writing career as a journalist for The Mirror of Parliament and The True Sun Journals, before moving onto The Morning Chronicle. With his contacts in the press, Charles began publishing sketches and comics using the pseudonym ‘Boz’. He married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of Boz sketch editor George Hogarth, in 1836, the same year he moved onto Pickwick Papers and his literary career took off.

In 1837, Dickens published Oliver Twist, and went on to publish many more novels, such as Barnaby Ridge and The Clock. Within a few years, Charles had become a well-known international celebrity writer, loved for his satire, humour and observations of society and character.

As well as writing, Charles was also a theatre enthusiast, writing and performing plays; he once performed for Queen Victoria in 1851. He also travelled around the world and often lectured.

His most famous novel, A Christmas Carol, is still loved today and is often adapted in a variety of genres and art forms. His writing has been praised by other famous writers, such as Leo Tolstoy and George Orwell, for his social criticism, realism and comedy.

Challenges Overcome

Charles suffered from epilepsy as a child but eventually grew out of it.  A few of the characters in his stories had epilepsy, and Dickens’s wrote the effects of their epilepsy with such precision, academics believe he must have had it himself to know such details.

Dickens died on June 8th 1870, after suffering a stroke at home. He was buried at Westminster Abby, in the Poet’s Corner, despite his request to have an inexpensive and private burial at Rochester Cathedral.

Disability Definitions


Epilepsy is a neurological condition, which affects the nervous system.  Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder.

The cells in the brain, known as neurons, conduct electrical signals and communicate with each other in the brain using chemical messengers. During a seizure, there are abnormal bursts of neurons firing off electrical impulses, which can cause the brain and body to behave strangely.

The severity of seizures can differ from person to person. Some people simply experience an odd feeling with no loss of awareness, or may have a “trance-like” state for a few seconds or minutes, while others lose consciousness and have convulsions.


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Information sources:

Please click on the information links below to find out more.

Charles Dickens. (2015, March 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:36, April 2, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Charles_Dickens&oldid=654403384


– Michael Slater, ‘Dickens, Charles John Huffam (1812–1870)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2014
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7599, accessed 19 Nov 2013] – Please note that you will require library subscription or a library card to access the content on this site.



Image source – Wikicommons

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