Happy Birthday Mr. Dickens!
Today is Charles Dickens's 200th birthday (born February 7, 1812).
Dickens is one of my favorite authors, and, arguably (although there isn't much to go against this), one of the best writers of the English language. Ever.
His novels and stories are full of colorful characters; many of his books have over 100 characters! The amount of detail in every story transports you to another time and place. Want to know all about class and social issues in 19th century London? Just read some Dickens!
Never read any Dickens? I suggest you start with A Tale of Two Cities. That's the book that really made me love Dickens. Before that I had only read Great Expectations in my 9th grade English class and I was bored to tears. So why A Tale of Two Cities? The French Revolution! A creepy woman who knits all the time! And the ultimate babe, Sydney Carton. So please, just give it a try. It's well worth the effort. You can read A Tale of Two Cities (and other Dickens) for free on Google Books.
Don't have time for a 500 page book? Try a Dickens mini-series or movie. There are so many different versions, you might be watching Dickens until you die.
Check out Ben Zimmer's article about how Dickens shaped the way we speak.
Read/Listen to this great NPR story: "Dickens at 200: A Birthday You Can't 'Bah Humbug!'"
The British Council is doing a 24-Hour Readathon.
In London? Visit the Charles Dickens Museum.
Learn more about celebrations for Dickens's birthday