Charles Dickens’s first book, complete with all the pathos and comic invention of his later masterpieces
Published under the pen-name ‘Boz’, Charles Dickens’s first book Sketches by Boz (1836) heralded an exciting new voice in English literature. This richly varied collection of observation, fancy and fiction shows the London he knew so intimately at its best and worst – its streets, theatres, inns, pawnshops, law courts, prisons, omnibuses and the river Thames – in honest and visionary descriptions of everyday life and people. Through pen portraits that often anticipate characters from his great novels, we see the condemned man in his prison cell, garrulous matrons, vulgar young clerks and Scrooge-like bachelors, while Dickens’s powers for social critique are never far from the surface, in unflinching depictions of the vast metropolis’s forgotten citizens, from child workers to prostitutes. A startling mixture of humour and pathos, these Sketches reveal London as wonderful terrain for an extraordinary young writer. In his introduction, Dennis Walder discusses Dickens’s social commentary, his view of London and his imaginative mixing of genres, and places the Sketches in the tradition of eighteenth and nineteenth-century reportage. This edition also includes the original illustrations by George Cruickshank, a chronology, further reading, appendices and notes.
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Walter Bagehot once remarked, Dickens wrote about London “like a special correspondent for posterity”.
“The first sprightly runnings of his genius are undoubtedly here,” wrote Dickens’s friend and biographer John Forster.
About Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was born in a little house in Landport, Portsea, England, on February 7, 1812. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. At age eleven, Dickens was taken out of… More about Charles Dickens
Published by Penguin Classics May 01, 1996| 688 Pages| ISBN 9780140433456