When it comes to novels that define a whole century and multiple generations, Charles Dickens is one of the greatest leaders of his time. He introduced the world to numerous iconic heroes, villains, and talked about the flaws of society.
Inequality, injustice, and violence always played a key role in his books, and he used his writing brilliance to make the readers pay attention to the pain and suffering that was going on in England and the majority of the European countries.
Dickens was a true visionary, a man with a brave, pure heart and a gift that turned him into a legend. Overall, he wrote 16 novels but never got to finish the last one.
A Christmas Carol
This is one of the finest works by the great writer. It first saw the light of day back in 1843 and instantly became a nation-wide hit. Mr. Scrooge, the main character of the story, is a very stingy, greedy man who only cares for himself.
However, when a ghost of his former friend visits him during the night, the man changes completely and turns into a loving and compassionate human being. Was it the spirit of the holiday that showed him the right way, or maybe ghosts do really exist? With this novel, Dickens made Christmas popular again, and that’s one of its biggest achievements.
A Tale of Two Cities
Even if you’re not a fan of literature, you’ve probably heard about this epic story. This book is constantly being included in all kinds of top-10 bestselling novels lists and various sources claim that overall, 200+ million copies were sold worldwide.
Dickens put his heart and mind into this grandiose tale and created a true classic that will be relevant for the generations to come. The story follows a man who spent the last 2 decades of his life in prison and his journey towards reuniting with his only child – a daughter. The French Revolution plays a major role in this novel.
As a social activist and a man who was quick to judge the system whenever he noticed its flaws, Dickens depicted the notorious Gordon Riots in this book. This is the 5th novel that was published under the legendary writer’s name and came out when he was already insanely popular in England and Europe.
By the way, this is the first complex novel written by Charles. However, due to endless delays, it only saw the light of day after he successfully published 4 other novels. It’s worth mentioning that Barnaby Rudge is not a particularly popular novel. In fact, it’s actually one of his least-known works.
If you love genre-defining novels with multiple subplots, numerous memorable characters, and Dickens’s trademark writing style, Bleak House will become your new favorite. The unique thing about it is that the story is told partly by Esther, the heroine, and partly by a third-person narrator.
This unusual approach was largely criticized by the readers, as it was pretty confusing. At the same time, some critics and colleagues of Dickens praised him for experimenting with his writing. The ridiculous judicial system in the UK is the major theme in this novel and the writer used his background as a clerk to push it into the ground.
The most dramatic and autobiographic book by the legendary writer. This is the 8th novel in his lineup and first came out as a serial in 1849. Most of the plot is based on Dickens’s own life journey and the experiences that he had while climbing up that pedestal.
Many critics call it his autobiography in disguise. The man himself said many times that it was his favorite novel and that he put a big part of himself into the pages. It’s a heart-wrenching and touching story about a boy who has to grow up at a young age.
Dombey and Son
This is one of the few novels that Dickens wrote while being away from England. He began writing it in Switzerland and spent a lot of time on the characters, the events, and the plot. Mr. Dombey is the main character – a self-centered, grumpy old man.
All he ever wanted was to have a son and to let him rule his business once he’s old. However, his first kid was a girl, and he never really considered her to be his child. When the long-awaited boy did arrive, he focused all of his attention on him. Unfortunately, the lad died, and after decades of neglecting Floy, he finally started to love her.
As the 13th novel by Dickens, this is an exceptionally-written, engaging and thought-provoking story. It’s centered on an orphan boy and his journey from just another lonely kid in London to a grown-up man. And, it includes vivid images of poverty, desperation, and survival.
The writer himself went through something similar and knew first-hand what it meant to be on your own as a kid in the mid-XIX century in the United Kingdom. The main characters of this novel became internationally known and loved and are still very popular to this day.
The 10th novel by Dickens, where he criticized the state of society and the brutal economic conditions that low-class hard workers had to live in. This is the shortest novel ever written by him. Furthermore, it doesn’t have an intro and/or any illustrations.
Another personal story. In Little Dorrit, Dickens wrote a lot about the so-called debtors’ prisons, because his own dad spent a significant amount of time in one of them.
He called these “dungeons” a big flaw of the government and was strongly against them. Dickens was confident that the famous class system was meant to divide the people of the UK, not unite them.
One of the most scandalous novels by the master. Dickens himself called it a masterpiece, but the sales numbers were pretty low. After the first couple of chapters proved to be a lot less popular than usual, he decided to send his hero to America. Yet, his offensive description of the locals didn’t have a positive effect on the novel’s popularity.
The 3rd novel in Dickens’s roster, and a very relevant and resonating story. While the first half is considerably light and fun, the second one is harsh and brutal. Nick is an honest, caring and loving individual, and he never loses his heart even after going through numerous struggles.
Twist is probably the most favored novel by Dickens. The tales about a little boy, who spends most of his time surviving in the most unforgiving circumstances, became a worldwide classic while the author was still alive. Oliver labored in a workhouse, was sold as a slave and joined a gang in the capital. Still, he remained pure of heart.
Our Mutual Friend
The critics are calling it the most sophisticated work by the writer. Satire goes hand in hand with deep analysis and the plot is equally gripping and unpredictable. Money and greed are the major themes of the novel.
The Old Curiosity Shop
The story of the beautiful, kind and lovely Nell and her grandpa is among the most touching and thought-provoking ones in history. Dickens created an extremely realistic world and didn’t try to turn his novel into a fairytale. Queen Victoria herself called it a worthy tale.
The Pickwick Papers
The first novel by Charles Dickens. He started to work on it as a young and promising writer. After its publication, he became an incredibly popular author. It’s about a group of wealthy gentlemen who decide to go outside of London and experience the life on the outskirts.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
This is the final and the only unfinished novel by Dickens. There are numerous endings to it written by other people, but the real grand finale will never be available to us. Gripping, thrilling and captivating, it’s one of his finest creations.