What drove Charles Dickens to genius is investigated in this new work by British biographer Claire Tomalin. The answers she finds: a childhood of impoverishment, a punishing work ethic, including many 14-hour days, a stout sense of morality (as evidenced by philanthropic works, large and small, not just his writing) and an entrepreneurial spirit. As one critic said, Dickens wrote “like a special correspondent for posterity.” It’s an authoritative, exhaustive look at a complex man. If you’re really into Charles Dickens, also check out Tomalin’s The Invisible Woman, about his lover Nelly Ternan.
Charles Dickens: A Life, Claire Tomalin, $36.