Entertainment/Charles Dickens

From Quiz Revision Notes

Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812 – 1870) born in Portsmouth and died at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent. Buried in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors' prison. Dickens married Catherine Hogarth and they had 10 children. He adopted his younger brother's nickname, Boz, as a pen-name. Nelly Ternan was Dickens’ secret lover

Books illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne, known as Phiz

Most of Dickens’ novels were released to the public in monthly installments

First six novels were in the picaresque form

Barnaby Rudge

Barnaby Rudge is largely set during the Gordon Riots of 1780

Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of Eighty – full title

Dickens' first historical novel


Barnaby Rudge – a simple but good-hearted boy who gets involved in the Gordon riots. His companion is Grip, the loquacious raven

Mary Rudge– Barnaby’s loving mother

Barnaby Rudge Sr – Barnaby’s father. Murdered his employee, Reuben Haredale

Old John Willet – the keeper of the Maypole Inn

Joe Willet – John’s kindly son. Marries Dolly Varden

Gabriel Varden – locksmith and owner of The Golden Key

Martha Varden – overbearing wife of Gabriel. A fanatical Protestant

Dolly Varden – daughter of Gabriel and Martha

Sir John Chester MP

Edward Chester – son of John. Marries Emma Haredale and relocates to the West Indies

Geoffrey Haredale – younger brother of the murdered Reuben

Emma – daughter of the murdered Reuben

Hugh – sinister hostler of the Maypole Inn

Lord George Gordon – leader of the Gordon Riots. A fictionalisation of the historical personality

John Grueby – loyal servant of George Gordon

Mr Gashford – George Gordon’s hypocritical  secretary

Bleak House

The main plot is the long-running litigation in England's Court of Chancery, Jarndyce v Jarndyce. The litigation, which already has taken many years, is emblematic of the failure of Chancery

Bleak House is the only Dickens novel with a female narrator (Esther Summerson)

Bleak House is the longest Dickens novel


Esther Summerson – brought up as an orphan by her aunt, Miss Barbary

Honaria, Lady Dedlock – unknown to her husband, Sir Leicester, she is the mother of Esther Summerson. Lives a life of lies

John Jarndyce – owner of Bleak House. Adopts Esther Summerson

Richard Carstone – ward of John Jarndyce and a party to the case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce. Marries Ada Clare, but dies when his health declines

Ada Clare – ward of John Jarndyce and cousin of Richard Carstone

Harold Skimpole – friend of John Jarndyce who sponges off his friends

Mr Tulkinghorn – family lawyer to the Dedlocks. Murdered by Lady Dedlock’s former maid, Hortense

Miss Flite – an elderly eccentric who owns a large number of birds

William Guppy – proposes to Esther Summerson, but she refuses

Krook – proprietor of a rag and bottle shop. Dies of spontaneous combustion

Alan Woodcourt – surgeon who loves Esther Summerson

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come

Marley – first word

The story closes with the narrator repeating Tiny Tim's words: "God bless us, everyone!"

"Bah, Humbug!" – Scrooge


Ebenezer Scrooge – a miser transformed into a benevolent humanitarian

Bob Cratchit – the clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge and father of Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim – crippled son of Bob Cratchit. The forecast of Tim’s death is instrumental in Scrooge’s transformation

Jacob Marley – penny-pinching miser who is suffering for it, and returns as a ghost

Ghost of Christmas Past – shows Scrooge his childhood

Ghost of Christmas Present – shows Scrooge the joy that Christmas brings

Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come – shows Scrooge the demise of himself and Tiny Tim

Belle – Scrooge’s former fiancé

Mr Fezziwig – Scrooges’ former employer

Fred – Scrooge’s nephew who invites Scrooge to Christmas Dinner, but is ignored

David Copperfield

The story traces the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity, and is partly autobiographical

Younger of Blunderstone Rookery – subtitle

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life – first line

"Annual income £20, annual expenditure £19 19/6, result happiness. Annual income £20, annual expenditure £20 0/6, result misery" – spoken by Wilkins Micawber

"Barkis is willing" – spoken by Barkis, showing his desire to marry Peggotty


David Copperfield – begins life with his widowed mother, Clara, and the maid, Peggotty. Sent to Creakle’s school. After the death of his mother he lodges with the Micawbers. Goes to live with his great aunt Betsey Trotwood. Marries Dora Spenlow then Agnes Wickfield

Clara Peggotty – David’s devoted nurse. After the death of David’s mother she marries Barkis

Daniel Peggotty – fisherman brother of Clara. Lives in an overturned boat at Yarmouth

Betsey Trotwood – David’s great aunt. Lives in Dover. Helps David to get a start in life after he runs away from London

Daniel Murdstone – second husband of Clara Copperfield. Sends David to Salem House School and later to the warehouse of Murdstone and Grinby

Wilkins Micawber – always in debt and waiting “for something to turn up”. Exposes the deeds of Uriah Heep, and emigrates to Australia

Uriah Heep – hypocritical clerk of Mr Wickfield who talks constantly of being "umble", but gradually reveals his wicked and twisted character. He is finally discovered, by Wilkins Micawber, to be guilty of multiple acts of fraud

Dora Spenlow – marries David, but dies young. Has a pet spaniel called Jip

Mr Dick – companion to Betsey Trotwood who makes kites and is slightly deanged

Mr Creakle – dictatorial headmaster of Salem House Academy, where David first goes to school

Dombey and Son

The story concerns Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of the shipping company of the book's title, whose dream is to have a son to continue his business

Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation – full title

Charles Dickens started writing the book in Lausanne, before returning to England, via Paris, to complete it

"When found, make a note of" – spoken by Captain Cuttle


Paul Dombey Snr – head of the house of Dombey shipping firm

Fanny Dombey – Mr Dombey's first wife, mother of Florence and Paul, dies soon after Paul is born

Paul Dombey Jnr – son of Paul and Fanny. A sickly child, he lives only six years

Florence Dombey – daughter of Paul and Fanney. Neglected by her father, she nurses her brother. Marries Walter Gay and eventually cares for her father

James Carker – manager at Dombey and Son who ruins the firm

Captain Cuttle – hook-handed sea captain; friend of Solomon Gills

Walter Gay – nephew of Solomon Gills, friend to Florence, employee of Mr Dombey, sent away to Barbados by James Carker

Solomon Gills – owner of a ship’s chandler shop called ‘The Wooden Midshipman’ . Goes in search of Walter Gay when his ship is lost

Edith Granger – Paul Dombey’s second wife. Elopes with James Carker

Polly Toddle – Paul Dombey Jnr’s nurse

Diogenes – dog owned by the Blimber family

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is set among marshes in Kent, and in London. It depicts the personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. In the opening of the book, the young Pip is accosted by the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch in a graveyard

Dickens' second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person


Pip (Philip Pirrip) – an orphan being raised by his sister, Mrs Joe Gargary, and her husband

Joe Gargery – blacksmith and adoptive father to Pip. He marries Pip’s friend Biddy

Miss Havisham – a rich old lady who lives in seclusion at Satis House. She is the adopted mother of Estella. Left at the alter many years ago, but still wears her wedding dress and keeps the mouldy wedding cake

Estella – Pip’s love interest. She is cruel to him, and marries Bentley Drummie, who mistreats her. She meets Pip two years later

Abel Magwitch – a convict who Pip helps in the marshes. He is transported to Australia, where he gains a fortune which he secretly uses to help Pip. Father of Estella

Mr Jaggers – London lawyer who represent Abel Magwitch and Miss Havisham. It is through Jaggers that Pip receives the benefits of the ‘great expectations’ that he assumes are from Miss Havisham but are from Magwitch

John Wemmick – Jaggers’ clerk. Wemmick is Pip's chief go-between with Jaggers and looks after Pip in London

Herbert Pocket – the son of Matthew Pocket and Miss Havisham's presumed heir. He becomes Pip’s friend

Hard Times

Hard Times appraises English society and is aimed at highlighting the social and economic pressures of the times

Shortest novel by Dickens

Only novel not to have scenes set in London

Coketown may be partly based on Preston

Hard Times – For These Times – full title

Book I is entitled "Sowing", Book II is entitled "Reaping", and the third is "Garnering”


Josiah Bounderby – Coketown banker and mill owner

Thomas Gradgrind – retired mill owner, father of Louisa and Tom. Runs a school

Louisa Gradgrind – marries Josiah Bounderby, but does not love him

Tom Gradgrind – employed at Bounderby’s bank, from he steals; the blame is set on Stephen Blackpol. Leaves the country with the aid of Sleary’s Circus

Sissy Jupe – daughter of Signor Jupe, a clown in Sleary’s Circus. Deserted by her father and taken in by Gradgrind

Merrylegs – Signor Jupe’s performing dog in Sleary’s Circus at Chester

Stephen Blackpool – a worker in Bounderby’s mill. Accused of robbing the bank

Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit satirizes the shortcomings of both government and society, including the institution of debtors' prisons

Dickens' own father had been imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtor's prison

Book I is entitled "Poverty", Book II is entitled "Riches"

Circumlocution Office – fictional version of the Treasury

"Bring him for'ard, and I'll chuck him out o' winder" – last line. Spoken by Mr F’s Aunt


Amy Dorrit – daughter of William, born in Marshalsea debtor’s prison. She nurses Arthur Clennan in the Marshalsea, and marries him

William Dorrit – father of Amy, Fanny and Edward. He inherits an estate and leaves the Marshalsea, and travels abroad with his family. After his death, Amy learns that his fortune has been lost in a banking scam

Mr Merdle – an unscrupulous banker . The Dorrits and Arthur Clennan are ruined by investing in his enterprises. When his fraud is uncovered he commits suicide

Arthur Clennam – befriends Amy Dorrit at the Marshalsea. After losing everything in the Merdle banking scam, he is imprsoned at the Marshalsea, where he marries Amy

Mr F’s Aunt – companion to Flora Finching. Makes nonsensical remarks

Martin Chuzzlewit

Martin Chuzzlewit revolves around some very greedy and selfish relatives who are all after the failing old Martin Chuzzlewit’s money. He is surrounded by all these sycophantic relatives that he truly despises whilst ill, each one only interested in getting their hands on his estate

Martin Chuzzlewit seeks his fortune in USA

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit – full title


Martin Chuzzlewit – grandson of Martin Sr. Becomes a pupil of Pecksniff, who throws him out under pressure from the grandfather. Falls in love with Mary Graham

Old Martin Chuzzlewit – cousin of Pecksniff, whose hypocrisy he exposes

Jonas Chuzzlewit – son of Anthony Chuzzlewit, whom he kills to gain his inheritance. Marries Mercy Pecksniff. Murders Tigg, and on the way to prison, kills himself

Sarah Gamp – a midwife and nurse. A type of umbrella became known as a gamp because Sarah Gamp always carried one

Bullamy – porter at the offices of Montague Tigg’s fraudulent loan company. Following Tigg’s muder Bullamy and David Crimple steal the firm’s money

Mrs Lupin – landlady of the Blue Dragon Inn who marries Mark Tapley

Montague Tigg – starts an insurance business (run as a Ponzi scheme). Killed by Jonas Chuzzlewit

Mrs Todgers – proprietor of a boarding house. Takes in Charity and Mercy Pecksniff

Seth Pecksniff – architect and surveyor. A sanctimonious hypocrite. Father of Charity and Mercy

Tom Pinch – admirer and student of Pecksniff. Eventually, he discovers Pecksniff's true nature

Mark Tapley – works at the Blue Dragon Inn. Joins Young Martin Chuzzlewit on his trip to America

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Edwin Drood is an orphan betrothed by his father to Rosa Bud. Rosa is wooed by Edwin’s uncle John Jasper, who has an opium habit. Miss Twinkleton runs a school for girls at Nun’s House in Cloisterham (based on Rochester)

The novel was unfinished at the time of Dickens's death


Edwin Drood – an orphan who has been betrothed by his father to Rosa Bud since childhood. Edwin and Rosa agree they cannot marry

Rosa Bud – flees to London to her guardian, Grewgious, after John Jasper declares his love for her

John Jasper – uncle of Edwin Drood, with an opium habit. It is implied that Dickens intended to make him the murderer of Edwin Drood

Miss Twinkleton – principal of a school for girls in Cloisterham. Later becomes Rosa’s chaperone in London

Durdles – a drunken stonemason who employs a boy named Deputy to throw stones at him when he is drunk

Septimus Crisparkle – minor canon of Cloisterham Cathedral. He takes Neville Landless as a pupil

Neville Landless – quarrels with Edwin Drood. After Drood’s disappearance, John Jasper blames Neville, who flees to London with Helena

Helena Landless – twin sister of Neville. Falls in love with Crisparkle

Hiram Grewgious – a London lawyer and guardian of Rosa Bud. Investigates the disappearance of Edwin Drood and is suspicious of Jasper

Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby centres on the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies. Wackford Squeers, who operates an abusive all-boys boarding school, Dotheboys Hall,  at which Nicholas temporarily serves as a tutor


Nicholas Nickleby – turns to his uncle Ralph for assistance in supporting his mother and sister

Ralph Nickleby – a moneylender who feigns to help his family

Kate Nickleby – sister of Nicholas. Used by Ralph Nickelby to his advantage. Employed by dressmaker Madame Mantalini

Wackford Squeers – proprietor of Dotheboys Hall. Mistreats the boys

Smike – mistreated at Dotheboys Hall before being rescued by Nicholas. After his death Mr Brooker reveals that he was the son of Ralph Nickelby

Charles Cheeryble – benevolent businessman who employs Nicholas

Ned Cheeryble – brother and business partner of Charles

Madeline Bray – marries Nicholas at the end of the story

The Old Curiosity Shop

Nell Trent (Little Nell) lives with her grandfather in The Old Curiosity Shop and helps him to leave London to escape from Daniel Quilp, whom he borrowed money from to gamble


Nell Trent – helps her grandfather to leave London after he falls into the clutches of Daniel Quilp. Nell dies as a result of the journey

Nell’s grandfather – owner of The Old Curiosity shop. Has a secret gambling habit, and borrows money to gamble from Daniel Quilp

Daniel Quilp – mistreats his wife, Betsy. Drowns in the Thames

Dick Swiveller –friend of Fred Trent. Befriended by Quilp, who helps him gain employment

Fred Trent – Nell's worthless older brother, who is convinced that his grandfather is secretly wealthy

Kit Nubbles – shop boy who tames a pony called Whisker

Sally Brass – sister of Quilp’s attorney, Sampson Brass. Mother of the Marchioness, the below-stairs maid

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist is an orphan who starts life in a workhouse and is then apprenticed with an undertaker. He escapes from there and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets, who leads to the lair of the elderly criminal Fagin

The Parish Boy's Progress – alternate title

Oliver Twist is the second novel by Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838

"The law is an ass!" – Mr. Bumble

"Please sir, may I have some more?" – Oliver Twist


Oliver Twist – born in a workhouse. Apprenticed to Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker. Runs away to London where he falls in with Fagin’s band

Fagin – Jew who runs a thieves’ school in London. When Fagin attempts to destroy Oliver’s reputation he is arrested and executed at Newgate

Nancy – prostitute and member of Fagin’s gang. Murdered by Bill Sikes when trying to help Oliver

Bill Sikes – career criminal associated with Fagin. Murders Nancy. Hangs himself while trying to escape a mob. Bull’s-eye is Sikes’s Staffordshire bull terrier who dies at the same time as Sikes

Jack Dawkins – the Artful Dodger. Shows Oliver how to be a pickpocket

Charley Bates – sidekick to the Artful Dodger

Mr Bumble – Beadle at the workhouse where Oliver is born. Marries Mrs Corney

Mr Brownlow – adopts Oliver after he is charged with pickpocketing

Edwin Leeford – father of Oliver. Died before the story starts

Edward Leeford – son of Edwin and half-brother of Oliver who plots with Fagin to corrupt Oliver. Referred to as Monks

Noah Claypole – assistant at Sowerberry’s undertakers. Joins Fagin’s gang but becomes an informer for the police

Our Mutual Friend

A body is found in the Thames and identified as that of John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father's will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl whom he had never met. Instead, the money passes to the working-class Boffins, and the effects spread into various corners of London society

Last novel completed by Charles Dickens, in 1865


John Harmon – son of a dust contractor and heir to his fortune. Uses the alias Julius Handford in order to investigate his own supposed drowning

Bella Wilfer – leaves home and goes to live with the Boffins after John Harmon disappears

Gaffer Hexam – waterman who plies the Thames looking for dead bodies. Finds a body thought to be John Harmon

Lizzie Hexam – daughter of Gaffer. When he drowns, she goes to live with Jenny Wren

Noddy Boffin – John Harmon’s servent

Henrietta Boffin – wife of Noddy Boffin

Bradley Headstone – schoolmaster who becomes obsessed with Lizzie Hexam

Abbey Potterson – proprietor of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters

Silas Wegg – street vendor hired to read for the Boffins and teach Mr. Boffin how to read despite not being entirely literate himself

The Pickwick Papers

Samuel Pickwick, along with his friends Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass and Nathaniel Winkle, and his servant Sam Weller, travel around England. Mr Pickwick is imprisoned in the Fleet for refusing to pay fines stemming from a breach of promise suit brought against him by Mrs Bardell. Cricket match between All-Muggleton and Dingley Dell

First published as The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

First novel completed by Charles Dickens, in 1837


Samuel Pickwick – founder and chairman of the Pickwick Club

Tracy Tupman – travelling companion of Pickwick

Augustus Snodgrass – travelling companion of Pickwick. He marries Emily Wardle

Nathaniel Winkle – travelling companion of Pickwick. He marries Arabella Allen

Sam Weller – servant of Pickwick. Transposes Vs and Ws to comical effect

Tony Weller – Sam’s father, a coachman

Alfred Jingle – a strolling actor and charlatan who befriends Pickwick

Sergeant Buzfuz – Mrs Bardell's lawyer in legal dealings with Mr Pickwick

Quanko Samba – bowler in the West Indies cricket match described by Alfred Jingle at Dingley Dell

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London

Influenced by The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… – first line

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known" – Sydney Carton (last words)


Sydney Carton – lawyer who gets a charge of treason reversed for Charles Darnay. Takes Darnay’s place at the guillotine

Dr. Alexandre Manette – Lucie's father, kept as a prisoner in the Bastille for eighteen years. He is released and accompanies his daughter Lucie to England

Lucie Manette – marries Charles Darnay but is adored by Sydney Carton. Darnay and Lucie have a daughter, also called Lucie

Dr Alexandre Manette is held at the Bastille

Charles Darnay – tried for treason in London due to his resemblance to Sydney Carton. Marries Lucie Manette. Returns to Paris and is arrested

Monsieur Ernest Defarge– the owner of a French wine shop and one of the key revolutionary leaders

Madame Therese Defarge – a vengeful female revolutionary. Wife of Ernest Defarge

The Vengeance – a companion of Madame Defarge, a member of the sisterhood of women revolutionaries, and revolutionary zealot

Other works

The Uncommercial Traveller – a collection of literary sketches and reminiscences written by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens's five Christmas books – A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain

Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens in the 1850s