Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin Book Review

This is a powerful yet, very human portrait of Dickens. She includes many tiny details which really bring him to life; he was a tortured soul in many ways and Tomalin captures this brilliantly.

Well worth reading this to learn more about the passion which drove Dickens to write about the plight of the poor and hardship and injustice endured by them.

(Joan, Museum Room Steward)

Think you know Dickens? So did the majority of his contemporary readership but ‘The Inimitable’ had one very personal secret; a mistress and an actress at that. In the Summer of 1857 the 45 year old Dickens met, literally on the stage, an 18 year old young woman for whom he would leave his wife and with whom he would pursue a secret affair until his death 13 years later. Claire Tomalin’s masterful biography opens with: ‘This is the story of someone who – almost – wasn’t there; who vanished into thin air’. The facts of their relationship only began to surface in 1928, 50 years after his death. Ellen Ternan, Dickens’s mistress, hidden in plain sight from his adoring readers. Here is their story; an almost unbelievable exposure of infatuation, obsession and secrecy. A Charles Dickens you probably never knew existed because that was his plan.

(Peter, Museum Room Steward and Education Volunteer)

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