Charles Dickens (1812-1870), novelist. Born Portsmouth, where his father was an improvident clerk in the Navy Pay Office. Educated at Wellington House Academy for three years, Dickens became reporter of debates in the Commons for the Morning Chronicle and contributed to periodicals the articles subsequently republished as Sketches by 'Boz', leading to the publication of the immensely popular Pickwick Papers. The novels, appearing in monthly parts or weekly instalments in periodicals, followed in rapid, nearly uninterrupted succession, including Oliver Twist (1837-38); Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39); The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41); Barnaby Rudge (1841). In 1842 Dickens visited America, where his initial favourable impressions were quickly succeeded by stereotypes in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843). A Christmas Carol (1843) was the first of a series of Christmas Books. Eight major novels were to follow, including Dickens's work on his own weekly periodicals. Dickens revisited America in 1867-68, delivering a series of readings there; he toured the provinces on his return to England, and died leaving unfinished his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.