What was it like to be Charles Dickens? His letters are the nearest we can get to a Dickens autobiography: vivid close-up snapshots of a life lived at maximum intensity. This is the first selection to be made from the magisterial twelve-volume British Academy Pilgrim Edition of his letters. From over fourteen thousand, four hundred and fifty have been cherry-picked to give readers the best essence of 'the Sparkler of Albion'.
Jenny Hartley is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. She is the author of two books on British women's writing from the Second World War, and The Reading Groups Book, a pioneering survey of reading groups. Her most recent book, Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, published by Methuen in 2008, was picked Guardian 'Book of the Week' and described as 'brilliant' by Claire Tomalin. For the last ten years she has been a leading member of the Prison Reading Groups project.