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Unlike most of the great Victorian writers Charles Dickens came of the lower middle class. He was born in Portsea on February 7, 1812, the son of a Navy pay office clerk whose lovable, improvident nature was later made famous in the person of Micawber.
Charles' education was haphazard, but he supplemented it with constant reading, particularly of the eighteenth century novels in his father's small library.. Charles, then twelve, was left to look after himself and, with the help of a relative, found a job pasting labels on bottles in a blacking warehouse. The shame of his poverty and the menial work which he did so haunted him that he later concealed this period of his life from the knowledge of his own wife and children...
Obliged from the age of fifteen to earn his own living, for the most part, he was for a while a clerk in a London lawyer's office, where he observed all sorts and conditions of people with characteristic keenness. Still more valuable was his five or six years' experience in the very congenial and very active work of a newspaper reporter, where his special department was political affairs. This led up naturally to his permanentwork. The successful series of lively 'Sketches by Boz' dealing with people and scenes about London was preliminary to 'The Pickwick Papers,' which made the author famous at the age of twenty-four.
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