Author of numerous novels and loved for his many contributions to classic English literature, Charles Dickens experienced an unhappy and difficult childhood. He was born in Portsmouth England in 1812, and was pulled from school at a young age when his father was imprisoned for unpaid debts. He worked in a factory under appalling conditions, lonely and without family to care for him. He eventually returned to school, but wrote about the experience in the novels David Copperfield and Great Expectations.
He began his writing career as a journalist and in addition to his novels, wrote for several newspapers, edited weekly periodicals, wrote travel books and plays, and helped oversee several charitable organizations. He traveled extensively and lectured in the United States against slavery. Charles Dickens died of a stroke at age 58 and is buried at Westminster Abbey.