Book Description: Charles Dickens (1812-70) is probably Britain's best-known and well-loved author. His novels such as Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol and Hard Times have provided generations of readers with a unique insight into the realities of nineteenth-century Victorian society, and his own colourful and turbulent life helped to shape some of his most vibrant scenes and famous characters. His impoverished childhood - dogged by his father's debts and imprisonment in London - and years as a parliamentary journalist and legal clerk, brought Dickens first-hand experience of city life, enabling him to expose its realities, injustices and hardships in works such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby. Father of ten children, Dickens struggled with an unhappy marriage, but worked prolifically throughout his lifetime to achieve fame and fortune from his writing and editing. He was often disillusioned with society and championed the welfare of the common man through social, education and housing reforms. His reading tours indulged his love of the stage and enabled him personally to reach his audiences, both in Britain and America. Illustrated throughout with letters, manuscripts, engravings and photographs, Elizabeth James's concise biography provides a clear and revealing portrait of a prolific, talented and highly esteemed literary genius.