Charles Dickens would be 200 years old this year…and even though he died 142 years ago, we’re still talking about him! Yesterday, the National Post wrote an article called “Ten things you might not know about Charles Dickens“:
1. He had a thing for nicknames
Dickens not only named many of his ten children after his favourite authors but he also appointed nicknames to each other them including “Chickenstalker,” “Skittles,” “Lucifer Box” and “Plorn.” His own nickname? “Boz.”
2. He was obsessive-compulsive
Looking in the mirror and combing his hair was an obsession of Dickens. He would do this hundreds of times each day as well as rearranging furniture in his home because if it wasn’t in the “correct” position, he wouldn’t be able to concentrate. He also made sure that his bed was always aligned north-south, he believed that this would improve his writing. He’d touch certain objects three times for luck and was so fixated on cleanliness that he would frequently clean other people’s homes too.
3. Study secret
Inside Dickens’ study was a secret door designed like a bookcase. The shelves were filled with fake books that had witty titles such as Noah’s Arkitecture, a nine-volume set called Cat’s Lives and a multi-volume series called The Wisdom of Our Ancestors that dealt with subjects like ignorance, superstition, disease and instruments of torture. There was a companion book that went with The Wisdom of Our Ancestors called The Virtues of Our Ancestors that was super narrow.
4. He practiced hypnotism
Dickens was always interested in mesmerism and often practiced on his wife (a hypochondriac), his children and friends — to great results.
5. He was epileptic
At a young age, Dickens suffered from epilepsy and applied that to some of his characters, describing three, specifically, as having seizures. For a time where little was known about this disorder, doctors were impressed by how accurate and descriptive he could be. The characters that had seizures were Edward Leeford (Oliver Twist), a headmaster (Our Mutual Friend) and a maid (Bleak House).
6. Spontaneous Human Combustion
Dickens believed that humans could die from spontaneous combustion and even wrote in his novel Bleak House that one of the characters, Krook, died from it.
7. A Christmas Carol
Most of the characters in A Christmas Carol were based on people he actually knew, like Ebenezer Scrooge (a counselor in Edinburgh). This was also Dickens’ first unserialized piece of work.
8. Train crash
In June 1865, Dickens and his mistress Nelly Ternan were in the Staplehurst rail crash. They were in one of the eight cars that didn’t crash into the river below and he helped out some of the other passengers to safety before running back to save the manuscript for his novel Our Mutual Friend.
9. Canadian connection
Dickens’ son, Francis Jeffrey Dickens, was a member of the North-West Mounted Police from 1874 – 1886.
10. There’s a Charles Dickens amusement park
Dickens World in Kent, England is a Dickens themed attraction that promises to “take you back to an authentically themed Dickensian England.”
Sounds like an interesting fellow hey?
Makes you want to come on down to the library and check out something he wrote doesn’t it?!