10 Fun Facts About Charles Dickens

Feb 07, 2022 by Erin Yun

Against an orange-pink background, the blue cover of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is to the far left of the graphic while Erin Yun’s Pippa Park Raises Her Game is to the far right. In the middle in white block letters reads: Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!
February 7th is Charles Dickens’ birthday! This year he'd be 210 years old. His classic book Great Expectations is the inspiration behind Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun.

To celebrate, here are 10 fun facts about Charles Dickens:

  1. Dickens wrote his first story when he was around 9 years old! It was a tragedy called Misnar, Sultan of India.

  2. Dickens loved to give nicknames to his 10 children, including “Skittles” for his son Alfred, “Lucifer Box” for his daughter Kate, and “Chickenstalker” for his son Francis.  

  3. Dickens had a pet raven called Grip who appears in Barnaby Rudge.

  4. Dickens was on the train during the Staplehurst train crash of 1865. His carriage was hanging over the edge of a viaduct! After evacuating, he tended to several passengers, including his mistress Ellen Ternan and her mother.

  5. A Christmas Carol is the reason the greeting “Merry Christmas” became a popular phrase.

  6. The success of the Pickwick Papers in 1836 and 1837 elevated the view of serialized novels, which had previously been looked down on by serious authors.

  7. Great Expectations was selling 100,000 copies weekly by the middle of the original serialization.

  8. Dickens had a very private funeral—only 12 people in attendance—but many people wanted to pay their respects. So his grave was kept open for two days, and over 10,000 mourners visited it during this time.

  9. Despite passing 150 years ago, Dickens is still one of the top 100 bestselling authors in the UK according to Nielsen Book Data.

  10. Dickens introduced or popularized the use of over 250 words and phrases throughout his works like “flummox”, “humbug”, “butter-fingers”, “scrooge”, and “the creeps”.

Happy 210th birthday, Charles Dickens!

Use our Pippa Park Create Your Own Retelling Worksheet to make a retelling of a classic just like Erin Yun!