(7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870)
He was Victorian England’s most famous novelist; he gave us some of our most iconic characters and classic stories. He is the man who every child has read and heard of. Charles John Huffam Dickens.
Born in Portsmouth, Dickens had a relatively idyllic childhood till the time his father overspent and was sent to a debtor’s prison in London. While the rest of his family joined his father, Charles boarded first with an old family friend and then in the back attic at the home of an insolvent court agent. These early experiences and people can be found in many of Dickens novels. He started working 10 hour days at a warehouse pasting labels on shoe polish. The strenuous and cruel working conditions left a lasting impact on him. Even after his father was released from prison, Charles’ mom did not immediately remove him from the boot blacking factory and this perhaps was responsible for his “dissatisfied” attitude towards women. Glimpses of Charles’ early life, his feelings and hurt can be found in his most autobiographical novel, David Copperfield. After a brief schooling at the Wellington house Academy, Charles went on to become first junior clerk at a law office and then a freelance reporter. In 1830 Charles met his first love Maria Beadnell (Dora of David Copperfield), but it came to naught as Maria’s parents sent her away to Paris.
In 1833, Dickens’ first story, A Dinner at Poplar Walk was published in the London periodical, Monthly Magazine. Gradually his novels began to appear and gain success. In 1836, he married Catherine Thomson Hogarth, the daughter of the editor of the Evening Chronicle and they had ten children. CHarles Dickens is known for raising issues of the working class through his writing and for his philanthropy. Dickens died of a heart attack and was buried at Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey.
Some of his popular works include
(February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957)
The second of five children, Laura Ingalls Wilder is an American children’s author famous for the Little House series. This was based on her own childhood in a pioneer family. Laura was born in Wisconsin. In her early childhood, her father, Charles Ingalls settled on land not yet open for homesteading near Independence, Kansas–an experience that formed the basis of Ingalls’ novel Little House on the Prairie. Thereafter they moved through a number of places in Minnesota and Iowa till Charles accepted a railroad job in eastern Dakota Territory. He landed a homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota. It was here that Laura attended school, worked part-time jobs and met her future husband, homesteader Almanzo Wilder. Though she did not enjoy teaching, Laura took up her first teaching position shortly before her 16th birthday to help her family. At the age of 18, she marries Almanzo who was 10 years her senior. The first four years of her marriage was a period full of trials and the Wilders suffered many reverses. Laura was forced to work as a seamstress. In the meantime her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane had embarked on a career in writing and this inspired Laura. She submitted an article to the Missouri Ruralist and became a columnist and an editor.
There is much controversy re the Little House books. Some claim that Lane simply helped her mother by providing encouragement and publishing connections. Others maintain that it was Lane who converted and turned around Laura’s half baked autobiographical stories into the famous series. The truth till date remains obscure. What is however beyond doubt is the success and popularity of teh Little House Books.