This specially edited shorter edition takes the reader into the life of one of the world's greatest writers.Here, Ackroyd attempts to peel away the mask of a man whose life was outwardly a picture of Victorian rectitude, but whose love life was as complicated (and unconventional) as any modern writer's.
Dickens was a landmark biography when first published in 1990. This specially edited shorter edition takes the reader into the life of one of the world's greatest writers.
Here, Ackroyd attempts to peel away the mask of a man whose life was outwardly a picture of Victorian rectitude, but whose love life was as complicated (and unconventional) as any modern writer's. Dickens had everything - fame, success and riches - but he died harbouring a deep sadness he had experienced all his life. He was a man of mercurial character, had enormous vitality and humour, but he also had a sense of loss and longing that would constantly appear in his work. Like many eminent Victorians, he led a double life- although he insisted that nothing in the newspapers he edited should upset his middle-class readers, he regularly indulged in dubious night-time escapades with fellow author Wilkie Collins, and, for the last 13 years of his life, kept a secret mistress.
Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning historian, biographer, novelist, poet and broadcaster. He is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography, Thames: Sacred River and London Under; biographies of figures including Charles Dickens, William Blake, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock; and a multi-volume history of England. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.
Can't imagine a better introduction to the life and work of the quintessential English novelist than Peter Ackroyd's superb biography -- Simon Shaw Mail on Sunday Landmark biography... fascinating and colourful detail... first rate Daily Express A breathtaking feat of scholarship The Times A truly magnificent biography.This is the complete, the nonesuch, the definitive Dickens Sheridan Morley I can do no more than praise, recommend, insist that you buy and read this book.It supersedes all other Dickens biographies Anthony Burgess, Independent
Peter Ackroyd's biographies include "Blake", "T.S.Eliot", as well as "The Life of Thomas More". His novels include "The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde", "Milton in America", and, "The Plato Papers".
In this abridged - but still lengthy - edition of his classic biography, Peter Ackroyd sets out to do what all biographers attempt and few achieve: not only to chronicle the life and times of his subject but to enter into his very mind, pierce the mists that time, fame and popular sentiment inevitably create and gain real understanding. Dickens's wretched and poverty-stricken childhood furnishes much material for a biographer as perceptive as Ackroyd, and the examination of his growing-up here sheds considerable light on the author's character. Dickens's depiction of the youthful miseries suffered by such characters as David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby is acutely sympathetic, and Ackroyd suggests that Dickens's constant fear of penury, a childhood ghost which he never seemed able to outgrow, was largely responsible for his unbounded drive for work. One of the most celebrated characters in Victorian society, Dickens embodied an age that saw no limits to its power of understanding and sought to affect as much as it could reach. His fervent attempts at social reform as well as his workaholic lifestyle and lifelong passion for acting and the stage are faithfully chronicled, in the context of a Victorian London which Ackroyd evokes with brilliant imaginative power. Ackroyd's pen is a kindly one, and the faults he finds in his subject are looked upon with sympathy. His failings as a father and husband notwithstanding, it is his success as a novelist and social reformer that Ackroyd dissects and, in doing so, succeeds in capturing the essence of a man who managed, through the power of his pen, to change the social and cultural landscape of England forever. (Kirkus UK)