The Mystery of Charles Dickens: A strange life led in the public eye
Book review: A supreme performer laid bare by the prolific A.N. Wilson
Writer Charles Dickens: his past, thoughts and attitudes are to be found in each of his books. Photograph: Rischgitz/ Getty Images
As his lengthy list of biographies is already peppered with the names of literary titans – CS Lewis, John Milton, Iris Murdoch – it seems natural that the highly prolific A.N. Wilson would take a shot at the life of one of the most intriguing and enduring writers of all time.
That we must look to the novels to find the real story of Dickens’s life is the central premise of Wilson’s examination. This goes beyond a mere reading of David Copperfield as fictionalised autobiography or the acceptance of Great Expectations as the more on-the-nose rendition. Wilson contends that evidence of even the most trivial aspects of his past, thoughts and attitudes are to be found in each of Dickens’s books.