Charles Dickens, one of the greatest and most popular English novelists, was born on the 7th of February, 1812, in a small English town. He was a weak child and did not like to take part in noisy and active games. The little boy was very clever and learnt to read at an early age. He read a lot of books in his childhood. When he was about six, someone took him to the theatre for the first time. He saw a play by Shakespeare and liked it so much that he decided to write a play of his own. When it was ready, he performed it with some of his friends. Everybody enjoyed the performance, and the little writer felt very happy.
When Dickens was nine years old, the family moved to London where they lived in an old house in the suburbs.
They had a very hard life. There were several younger children in the family besides Charles. The future writer could not even go to school, because at that time his father was in the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison. There was nobody in London to whom Mr Dickens could go for money, and his wife with all the children except Charles went to join him in the prison. The family lived there until Mr Dickens could pay his debts. Those were the most unhappy days of all Charles' life. The boy worked from early morning till late at night to help his family.
Charles was only able to start going to school when he was nearly twelve, and his father was out of prison. He very much wanted to study, but he did not finish his schooling. After two years of school he began working again. He had to work hard to earn his living, and tried very many trades, but he did not like any of them. His ambition was to study and become a well-educated man. At the age of fifteen he often went to the famous library of the British Museum. He spent a lot of time in the library reading-room. He read and studied there and in this way he got an education.
Later Dickens described his childhood and youth in some of his famous novels, among them "Little Dorrit" and "David Copperfield."
The great writer died more than a hundred years ago (in 1870), but everybody still enjoys reading his books.