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on February 12, 2012
Many people have a love-hate relationship with Charles Dickens. He is one of those authors who used their work as a platform for social change. If you've ever read one of his novels you know where he stood on the social issues facing that time. However he was a very fascinating man. His early life and misfortunes molded him into the author he was to become. So many of his novels reflected his character.
February 7, 2012 was Charles Dickens' Bicentenary. Lucinda Dickens Hawksley and Insight Editions has put out this phenomenal book to commemorate Dickens' life. Lucinda Hawksley is the great, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens. She is an expert when it comes to the Dickens'. In this book she collaborated with The Charles Dickens Museum in London. The book is full or photographs, replicas of play bills, news papers, manuscript excerpts, letters and much more. This book is a treasure chest of all things Dickens. This is a book you will read over and over again each time discovering something new.
This book also goes into detail on the people in Dickens' life as well as the influences that inspired his many novels. I truly enjoyed this book and everything it has to offer. I felt like a kid at Christmas time reading this book. This is the perfect book to add to any collection and to be displayed.
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on January 28, 2012
The quality of the paper, the binding, the presentation is extremely good. I would have preferred a higher quality cover which would have made it a 5-star rather than a 4. This cover qualifies only as serviceable. The photographs, the pullouts, the foldouts, the inserts make this a trove of surprise and delight. I wish I had owned this collection when I was first doing research on Dickens for a recent class because it is so thorough. I heartily recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about Dickens and about the mid-Victorian milieu.
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I am an ardent fan of Charles Dickens' works, a love affair which began since I was around twelve years old and read my first Dickens' novel (Oliver Twist). Decades later, I am still a fan, and though I confess I haven't read all the novels that Dickens has written, I have read many and I admire how his works portray the plight of the poor, the stratification of the social classes in English society, and the ills of society with credibility and insight. In fact, Dickens made a point of addressing social ills in his works, something borne out of his own troubled and impoverished childhood. Dickens was an advocate for reform and change, with the goal of striving towards a better, more just society, where education would be open to everyone, from all walks of life.

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley who happens to be Dickens' great-great-great-granddaughter has done an amazing job compiling this commemorative edition in honor of Dickens' Bicentenary (1812-2012) with the cooperation of The Charles Dickens Museum in London. The book is an oversized hardcover with thick card-stock type glossy paper. It not only provides readers with fascinating glimpses into Dickens' life and career, but is also filled with many B&W and color photographs and illustrations depicting scenes of Dickens' childhood, places where Dickens worked which still exist today, his school, and many more. The book is divided into chapters addressing events in Dickens' life, his personal relationships, and of course, commentary on his works.

In a chapter titled "First Love: Maria Beadnell", readers learn of Dickens' young passion (at the age of 17) for Ms. Beadnell, who was two years older than Dickens and whose affluent family frowned upon their romance. It was interesting to read of the reversal in fortunes of these lovebirds and of Dickens' opinion of Ms. Beadnell when he meets her years after their romance ended. There are also chapters devoted to Dickens' married life, his domestic life with his children, his extended family, the end of his marriage, and of course, his great love affair with Ellen Ternan.

There are also chapters dedicated briefly to Dickens' works such as "Sketches by Boz", "The Pickwick Papers", "Oliver Twist", "Nicholas Nickleby", "The Old Curiosity Shop", "Barnaby Rudge", "Martin Chuzzlewit", "A Christmas Carol", "Dombey and Son", "David Copperfield", "Bleak House", "Hard Times", "Little Dorrit", "A Tale of Two Cities", "Great Expectations", "Our Mutual Friend", and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". Also included is a chapter on Dickens' work on magazines, the most notable being "Household Words" and "All the Year Round".

It needs to be noted at this point that those wishing to learn more about Charles Dickens and his life would fare better by picking up a good biography on the author. This book serves to provide glimpses and insights into the great writer's life and his works, but the real value of this book is the facsimile items among which are:
"The Pickwick Papers" manuscript
The marriage certificate of Charles Dickens and Catherine Hogarth
"Oliver Twist" manuscript

Dicks Standard Plays
"Bleak House" manuscript and proof pages
Visiting cards featuring Dickens in several distinguished poses
Photo albums
A facsimile copy of Dickens' will

This makes a wonderful gift for any Charles Dickens' fan.
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on May 16, 2012
Unlike that other most-influential English author--Shakespeare--Dickens lived much closer to our time and was much more in the public eye, hence the numerous thick and outwardly intimidating biographies of the man. This bicentenary biography, authored by the author's great-great-great granddaughter, makes the man and his times more accessible by means of contemporaneous illustrations (drawings, paintings, photographs--many of them seldom seen in previous Dickens biographies), sidebars, and four individual pockets of facsimile reproductions of items from Dickens' personal archives.

The result is a profile full of life and color as well as several surprises for both the newcomer and the dedicated reader. For instance, Dickens' aim in writing "A Christmas Carol" was to "strike a 'hammer blow' in favour of 'the Poor Man's child'"--"...making readers realize that they themselves were directly responsible for the poor people they passed on the streets every day." Though "Dombey and Son" has been called the first of the "planned novels," the so-called slapdash approach actually ended before the composition of "Martin Chuzzlewit." And there is no avoidance here of Dickens' relationship with Ellen Ternan, nor its social and physical consequences.

The facsimile items have been created with such as care as to preserve the "show-through" of ink and yellowing on the backside of the paper items. I would rather have had a complete reproduction of either "Household Words" or an installment of "Bleak House" in place of some of the other documents, but all of the ephemera is interesting. The facsimile of the "Nicholas Nickleby" installments from the University of Pennsylvania Press is still the best source for viewing one of the novels as it was first published.

Overall, this book is a delight, highly informative, very much fun, and reasonably priced for the treasures it contains.
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on March 10, 2012
I bought this for my mother who is very interested in the Dickens celebrations and she is thrilled. Its a beautiful book - beautifully presented with amazing photos and artifacts. There are fold out sections of the book that contain individual documents and photos which makes it so special. A really great book for any Dickens lover, written by a great great great granddaugter. Very good value.
0Comment7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I love this book! It is a biography, but because of its style, it is much more interesting to a broader range of people than a heavy tome.

This is an oversized, coffee-table book. Regular pages are interspersed with four large envelope-like inserts holding facsimiles of papers, such as original manuscripts and letters. Many many photos and engravings enhance the experience. But, best of all, the prose is also engaging.

Lucinda Dickens Hawksley is Charles Dickens' great-great-great-granddaughter, and she had the run of the Charles Dickens Museum in London as she put this together to commemorate Dickens' Bicentenary, 1812-2012.

And it's warts and all. For example, there's a chapter on Ellen Ternan. Twenty-seven years his junior, Ternan was Dickens' mistress for 13 years, until his death. She was the first person mentioned in his will. Yet, Lucinda writes, "even today, his reputation continues to be revered as if he were something more than a fallible human being who fell in and out of love like everyone else," and people refuse to believe Dickens had a mistress.

I don't want to give you the idea that this book is some kind of nasty tell-all. Ternan was an important part of Dickens' life, so she's covered. But this is a book that loves Dickens and what he accomplished. Dickens' parodies of child labor, ignorant teachers, legal finagling, young love and debtors' prisons were born of his own experiences, experiences he didn't forget as he became rich and famous. Though, as man of his times, he did hide his early years from the public.

His lambasting of hypocrisy in religion and charity, social class and education endeared him to not just the masses, but to the people he was lambasting. That's because he taught his lessons through indelible characters and scintillating descriptions. I admit that when I read "A Tale of Two Cities" a couple years ago, for the first time, I was occasionally underwhelmed by the flowery (and long-winded) language, but boy, this man could make you see his characters.

Lucinda gives an excerpt from one of Dickens' very early stories (he wasn't even paid for the first ones), published when he was 26: "Mrs. Tibbs was, beyond all dispute, the most tidy, fidgety, thrifty little personage that ever inhaled the smoke of London.... Mr Tibbs ... had, moreover, very short legs, but, by way of indemnification, his face was peculiarly long. He was to his wife what the 0 is in 90 - he was of some importance WITH her - he was nothing without her."

Can't you just SEE the Tibbs' in your mind's eye! Twenty years later, Dickens was to say that he was not happy with his first amateurish stories, but the genius is already there.

There are separate chapters on each of his major works, with commentary such as how Dickens got the idea for the story, or what reactions were made when it was published. The book is largely in chronological order, but there are separate chapters on general topics, such as Dickens and Religion and Dickens the Actor (that was a new one to me).

In short, Dickens is to be recommended, and this biography, "Charles Dickens: The Dicken's Bicentenery" is to be highly recommended. If you like this format as much as I do, you might also like the book on Jane Austen:
Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels

Happy Reader
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on September 25, 2012
I'm blown away by this book! It's like having an interactive experience offline. I haven't seen something like this published before, at least not about Dickens! It's the adult equivalent of a pop-up book. It's also wonderfully written and offers a real view (through words and pictures) into the life, world and zeitgeist of Dickens. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. Includes illustrations, replicated letters and pamphlets cleverly stuffed into equally interesting pockets. If Dickens is your life (like me) or you're just a fan or know of a fan, this book makes a great gift. Go ahead, treat yourself - the value of this book is easily 3-4x the cost.
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on January 19, 2013
As a loyal reader and admirer of anything Dickens, I found this commemorative book on Amazon. Afer reading some positive reviews, I decided to purchase, and I am very glad I did. It is a wonderful tribute to this literary genius, and I will treasure it always. Speedy delivery also!
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on July 23, 2012
This well illustrated book published on the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth provides a substantial overview of his life and work. Either two or four pages are systematically devoted to one of his works or to a specific aspect of his life such as `Married Life `, `Dickens and Detectives' or `Living in Paris'.

The approach is honest and rigorous though certainly not overly analytical or critical.

The book includes facsimile memorabilia of such articles as manuscripts, playbills and a photo album. These are a bit gimmicky but do provide the reader with a sense of discovery and intimacy.

Overall, this pleasant work will enlighten any Dickens amateur and encourage him or her to read more of him and about him.
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I wanted to get a comprehensive book with insight into Charles Dickens and this one fills the bill! By getting a book written by one of his relatives, there is no doubt of the authenticity. It is unique in the way it is written and put together.With copies of documents and comentaries from relatives, I think this may be the quintessential Dickens book that is out there and I am happy with my choice,
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