What a Life! Selected Charles Dickens Biographies
Annotation:Written by award-winning literary biographer Claire Tomalin. “A masterful balancing act, presenting the great artist as a fallible human without ever losing sight of the miracle of his literary achievements and the generosity of his spirit.” (BookPage Reviews, November 2011)
Annotation:An insightful survey of Dickens biography from to 1870 to 2010 published in The New York Review of Books on June 10, 2010.
Annotation:Gottlieb tells the often sad stories of Dickens's ten children in this "smart and accessible biography" (Publishers Weekly, October 2012, #1).
Annotation:Explores the writer's early life up to age 26. "Readers familiar with the entirety of Dickens will find this book a remarkable achievement. Those who know the early works and the great biographies...will find it a revelation." (Choice February 2012)
Annotation:"A landmark of literary scholarship." (Booklist 2009 November #2 ) "This volume supersedes previous biographical studies." (Choice 2010 April)
Annotation:"A successful attempt to deepen the way we read Dickens, with clues to finding him in his own characters and words." (Kirkus Reviews 2002 March #2)
Annotation:“In a remarkable feat of biographical sleuthing, Tomalin offers the fullest account to date  of Charles Dickens's secret 13-year relationship with actress Ellen (``Nelly'') Ternan." (Publishers Weekly, February 1, 1991)
Annotation:Robert Gottlieb writes that “Ackroyd has an extraordinary grasp of both the details and the context of Dickens’s life” and that his biography “would appear to be definitive” except for certain novelistic tendencies like “his aggressive refusal to provide sources” and his addition of little dialogues of his own making to the narrative. (NYRB, June 10, 2010)
Annotation:“Kaplan provides a full-scale portrait of Dickens and incorporates into the narrative a discussion of the autobiographical basis and significance of his greatest masterpieces.” (Reference & Research Book News August 01, 1989)
Annotation:“Michael Slater brilliantly anatomize[s]…[Dickens’] relationships [with women], providing us with one of the most perceptive takes we have on Dickens’s psychology and pathology—not too strong a word.” (Richard Gottlieb in NYRB, June 10, 2010)
Annotation:“…received by critics as the first definitive life but had a remarkable popular success…Johnson’s book is still highly readable—capacious, sympathetic, fluent.” (Robert Gottlieb in New York Review of Books, June 10, 2010 )
Annotation:An abridged version of John Forster's three-volume biography published in 1872 ; with a foreword by Jane Smiley and 250 illustrations.
Annotation:Dickens' first major biographer, his intimate friend John Forster, published the first volume of his Life of Charles Dickens in 1871, the year after the author's death.
Annotation:David Cody's biography of Dickens on The Victorian Web includes extensive links to other related content on the site.
Annotation:In this online seminar created in 2002, Kenneth Benson "surveys the life and works of the most beloved author of the Victorian era." Available through the Fathom Archive.
Annotation:This topic guide includes links to selected web resources in the "Dickens navigator" and links to NYT articles published in the 19th and early 20th century as well as more recent Dickens news and criticism.
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In honor of the author's 200th birthday, here is a selection of biographies of Charles Dickens available at NYPL and a few good web resources, too! Much content for this list comes from Robert Gottlieb's article "Who Was Charles Dickens?" published in The New York Review of Books on June 10, 2010. List updated on December 10, 2012.