A breathtaking feat of scholarship' The Times. 'I can do no more than praise, recommend, insist that you buy and read this book. It supersedes all other Dickens biographies' Anthony Burgess, Independent. In Peter Ackroyd's abridged edition of his classic biography of Charles Dickens, the acclaimed biographer takes us to the heart of one of the world's greatest writers. From Dickens's birth in Portsmouth to his death at the age of just fifty-eight, Ackroyd explores the life of this renowned author and the hundreds of characters who were born with Dickens but didn't die with him, living on for ever in the pages of his books, on the radio and the television and film screens.
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(198mm x 129mm x 36mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
In this abridged - but still lengthy - edition of his classic biography, Peter Ackroyd sets out to do what all biographers attempt and few achieve: not only to chronicle the life and times of his subject but to enter into his very mind, pierce the mists that time, fame and popular sentiment inevitably create and gain real understanding. Dickens's wretched and poverty-stricken childhood furnishes much material for a biographer as perceptive as Ackroyd, and the examination of his growing-up here sheds considerable light on the author's character. Dickens's depiction of the youthful miseries suffered by such characters as David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby is acutely sympathetic, and Ackroyd suggests that Dickens's constant fear of penury, a childhood ghost which he never seemed able to outgrow, was largely responsible for his unbounded drive for work. One of the most celebrated characters in Victorian society, Dickens embodied an age that saw no limits to its power of understanding and sought to affect as much as it could reach. His fervent attempts at social reform as well as his workaholic lifestyle and lifelong passion for acting and the stage are faithfully chronicled, in the context of a Victorian London which Ackroyd evokes with brilliant imaginative power. Ackroyd's pen is a kindly one, and the faults he finds in his subject are looked upon with sympathy. His failings as a father and husband notwithstanding, it is his success as a novelist and social reformer that Ackroyd dissects and, in doing so, succeeds in capturing the essence of a man who managed, through the power of his pen, to change the social and cultural landscape of England forever. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. He is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.