In 1828 Charles Dickens (1812-1870) launched a career as a journalist writing for the Mirror of Parliament. It was a small step from journalism to writing literary sketches, and his first piece appeared in Monthly Magazine in 1833.
He continued writing sketches for various periodicals until 1836, during which time he adopted the pen name ‘Boz,’ derived from his youngest brother’s mispronunciation of his childhood nickname. In 1836, the publishers Chapman and Hall approached Dickens and offered him £14 a month to write twenty numbers to be published as installments in their monthly magazine. The resulting work, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1837), earned Dickens recognition and sent him down the path of literary writing. His works proved highly successful in his time, and he was quickly able to make a living solely by writing, one of the first to do so.
In addition to being massively popular in multiple countries, Dickens was incredibly prolific: He wrote 14 full-length novels, several novellas, over 20 Christmas-themed stories, and a large number of short stories and essays. He published a new work almost every year between 1836 and 1870, often working on multiple novels or short pieces at a time. His novels and their characters are an important contribution to British and English-language literature, and constitute a relentless critique of life in industrializing England. His own experiences as a young boy living in crowded buildings and visiting his family at Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison served as fodder for his writing, one of the most noted examples being that of Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield (1850).