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Why Did Charles Dickens Have to Work When He Was a Minor?

If you remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas, you must know the genius behind the classic novel. Charles Dickens was known for several of his work such as Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and A Tale of Two Cities. But did you know he started working at a very young age?

At the age of 12, Charles Dickens was forced to leave school. He worked for 10 hours a day for 6 shillings a week. It was necessary for his very own survival. His father had been jailed due to unpaid debts, and Charles was left in another town.

Who is Charles Dickens?

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English author and novelist who has created some of the most well-know characters in the history of literature. His work was enjoyed all throughout his time, and even into the 20th century. Because of this, he was recognized by scholars and critics to be a literary genius. (Source: The Guardian)

What Was Dickens’ Childhood Like?

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. He was the second of eight children. Their family started in Portsmouth, Hampshire. They relocated to Sheerness then to Chatham, Kent.

His life growing up was very typical of a young boy. He spent most of his times outdoors, but he also read a lot.

By June 1822, Charles’ family had to move to Camden Town in London. Charles was left behind to finish his final term at school.

John Dickens had a habit of living beyond his means, which meant that the family racked up a lot of debt over the years. He was eventually jailed at the Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison by 1824.

Charles was made to leave school and work at Warren’s Blackening Warehouse for 10 hours a day. He earned six shillings a week by labelling pots of boot blacking. The hardships he went through during this time truly made a lasting impression on him that we often see the this as the central theme of his work. (Source: The Guardian)

Was Charles’ Father Released from Jail?

Months after John Dickens was jailed, his mother passed. She left him £450. He was then released under the Insolvent Debtors Act, and payment was arranged for his creditors. The family left Marshalsea and went to the home of Elizabeth Roylance where they left Charles.

Instead of asking Charles to stop working at the warehouse, his mother wanted him to continue his role at the company. It was the unfair treatment of his mother that influenced his disdain towards women.

I never afterwards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm for my being sent back.

Charles Dickens

(Source: The Guardian)

What Did Charles Dickens Do After Schooling?

Charles Dickens started working as a junior clerk at the Ellis and Blackmore law office from May 1827 to November 1828. It was during this time he found out his talent of impersonation. He would often mimic clients, partners, and other clerks in the office.

Dickens went onto looking for fame. He was drawn to the performing arts and joined the Garrick Club. (Source: The Guardian)

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