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

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.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.