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David Copperfield is the story of a young man's adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among the gloriously vivid cast of characters he encounters are his tyrannical stepfather, Mr Murdstone; his brilliant, but ultimately unworthy school-friend Steerforth; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble, yet treacherous Uriah Heep; frivolous, enchanting Dora; and the magnificently impecunious Micawber, one of literature's great comic creations.
In David Copperfield – the novel he described as his 'favourite child' – Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure.
About the Author
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity as a novelist was established with the success of Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His other novels include Great Expectations and Bleak House. Jeremy Tambling is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong.
"The most perfect of all the Dickens novels." --Virginia Woolf
ISBN: 9780140439441 ISBN-10: 0140439447 Series: Penguin Classics Audience:
For Ages: 18+ years old Format:
Number Of Pages: 1024 Published: July 2004 Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 12.9
Weight (kg): 0.7
Edition Number: 1
Charles Dickens was born at Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, the second
of eight children. Dickens's childhood experiences were similar to
those depicted in David Copperfield. His father, who was a government
clerk, was imprisoned for debt and Dickens was briefly sent to work in
a blacking warehouse at the age of twelve.
He received little formal education, but taught himself shorthand and
became a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle.
He began to publish sketches in various periodicals, which were
subsequently republished as Sketches by Boz. The Pickwick Papers were
published in 1836–7 and after a slow start became a publishing
phenomenon and Dickens's characters the centre of a popular cult.
Part of the secret of his success was the method of cheap serial
publication which Dickens used for all his novels. He began Oliver
Twist in 1837, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1838) and The Old
Curiosity Shop (1840–41).After finishing Barnaby Rudge (1841) Dickens
set off for America; he went full of enthusiasm for the young republic
but, in spite of a triumphant reception, he returned disillusioned. His
experiences are recorded in American Notes (1842). Martin Chuzzlewit
(1843–4) did not repeat its predecessors' success but this was quickly
redressed by the huge popularity of the Christmas Books, of which the
first, A Christmas Carol, appeared in 1843.
During 1844–6 Dickens travelled abroad and he began Dombey and Son
while in Switzerland. This and David Copperfield (1849–50) were more
serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early novels. In
later works, such as Bleak House (1853) and Little Dorrit (1857),
Dickens's social criticism became more radical and his comedy more
In 1850 Dickens started the weekly periodical Household Words,
succeeded in 1859 by All the Year Round; in these he published Hard
Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations
(1860–61). Dickens's health was failing during the 1860s and the
physical strain of the public readings which he began in 1858 hastened
his decline, although Our Mutual Friend (1865) retained some of his
His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was never completed and he
died on 9 June 1870. Public grief at his death was considerable and he
was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.
A Note on our choice
The Works of Charles Dickens are available in many different editions, published by many different publishers.
The Booktopia Book Guru has recommended the Penguin Black Classic paperback editions here, as Australian readers have had a long established relationship with the Penguin Black Classic editions, with their informative and erudite introductions and notes.
There are, however, other options (see the series tab below). Both Oxford Classics and Vintage Classics publish Dickens, with notes and introductions. As do many US publishing houses.
Wordsworth Classics publish cheaper, no frills, editions of the classics, Dickens included, but the cheapest option, for those who have don’t want to read the classics but have to in order to pass a course, the US publisher, Dover, issues a thrift edition: these are cheap and cheerful, read and discard productions, which offer nothing but the text.