This long-awaited biography, twenty years after the last major account, uncovers Dickens the man through the profession in which he excelled. Drawing on a lifetime's study of this prodigiously brilliant figure, Michael Slater explores the personal and emotional life, the high-profile public activities, the relentless travel, the charitable works, the amateur theatricals and the astonishing productivity. But the core focus is Dickens' career as a writer and professional author, covering not only his big novels but also his phenomenal output of other writing - letters, journalism, shorter fiction, plays, verses, essays, writings for children, travel books, speeches, and scripts for his public readings, and the relationships among them. Slater's account, rooted in deep research but written with affection, clarity, and economy, illuminates the context of each of the great novels while locating the life of the author within the imagination that created them.
It highlights Dickens' boundless energy, his passion for order and fascination with disorder, his organizational genius, his deep concern for the poor and outrage at indifference towards them, his susceptibility towards young women, his love of Christmas and fairy tales, and his hatred of tyranny. Richly and precisely illustrated with many rare images, this masterly work on the complete Dickens, man and writer, becomes the indispensable guide and companion to one of the greatest novelist.
"'In many ways, this is an excellent book. It is clearly written, without rash speculation or amateur psychiatry. It is based on a thorough knowledge of relevant facts. The illustrations are copious, well chosen, and extremely well reproduced.' (A.O.J. Cockshut, The Church Times) 'The attention Mr. Slater gives to Dickens's less familiar writings - the short stories, journalism, and essays - is one of the things that distinguish his excellent biography... An authoritative and engaging biography.' (The Economist) 'Indispensable... Slater assembles a million accumulated details, minutely examining the genesis of each work... This is an incomparable portrait of the writing life of Dickens. Cumulatively, it is profoundly moving, chronicling the constant restless interaction between the life and work.' (Simon Callow, The Guardian) 'This book is like a cake, rich with fruit, appropriately for Dickens a Christmas cake, which will keep and be sliced into for years; or maybe, as he saw it, "the layers of red and white in a side of streaky, well-cured bacon" - white for comedy - red for mortality.' (P. J. Kavanagh, The Tablet)"
Michael Slater is Emeritus Professor of Victorian Literature at Birkbeck College, University of London, past President of the International Dickens Fellowship and of the Dickens Society of America, and former editor of the journal The Dickensian. He has taught and continues to lecture widely in the USA, across Europe, Australasia and the Far East.