Charles Dickens seems to have had a love-hate relationship
with the city.
In his early years he experienced the squalor and hardship that the
poor had to endure. London's lively streets formed the backdrop to many
of his novels and the social injustices influenced his plots.
He was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire in 1812 and moved with his
family to London when he was only 2. His father, a Navy clerk, had
financial problems and was sent to a debtor’s prison at Marshalsea.
Aged 12, Charles was sent to work in a boot-blacking factory earning
six shillings a week to help keep the family.
He was an avid reader and attended school when the family could
These early years of poverty influenced his writing. He became a
reporter, then short-story novelist.