“There are strings in the human heart that had better not be vibrated.”

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens


Charles Dickens is one of Britain’s most famous and well-loved writers who became incredibly successful during his own lifetime. He was born in 1812 and lived through the Industrial Revolution. His stories often speak about what life was like for people during this period of great change. His first experience of poverty came when he was 8 years old and his father was put in prison for fraud, leaving his large family alone. The young Charles and his brothers had to work in a factory. He used this difficult personal experience in many of his novels, especially those about children. He became a passionate social reformer and criticised the working and living conditions of the poor in his writing.

He wrote his semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield, in 1850. It tells of the problems and difficulties of a young boy growing up in difficult circumstances. His experiences and the people he meets during his life all reflect the social conditions of the day. After many adventures and negative experiences his luck finally changes and the story has a happy ending when, like Dickens himself, David Copperfield becomes a successful writer!


Illustration by ​Anna + Elena Balbusso, taken from ​A Christmas Carol, by ​Charles Dickens​, Reading&Training, Step Four (CEFR B2.2)