CHARLES DICKENS (1812 - 1870) Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. He was the second of eight children. Although his father was hard-working, he was unable to support his family, so Charles knew well what it meant to be poor in his days. His first job, at the age of twelve, was labelling bottles. When his father came out of prison, where he had been sent for failling to pay his debts, Charles returned to school where he did well. At fifteen he began to work in a law firm, where he taught himself, and after eighteen months, he began work as a freelance reporter in London. Having been very poor as child and young man, Dickens throughout his life and writings took the side of the poor people. In his first years as a writer he showed a tendency to optimism, and the troubles of his poor characters were often given a happy end, perhaps by the kindness of some rich man. At times, Dickens' reputation in English literature has stood second only to that of Shakespeare. Part of the reason for this is to be found in the way he created realistic characters, such as the money-loving old man Ebenezer Scrooge of the present story. Dickens was also skilled in describing places, particularly the back streets of London. So great has the influence of Dickens' descriptions been that, well into the second half of the twentieth century, millions of people all over the world still believed that London was a city of dense smoky fogs.