Dickens reads himself
Posted on 08 May 2010, 17:31
Reading Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Dickens, I’m struck by his description of how Dickens reacted to seeing his fiction in print for the first time.
In 1833, Dickens (aged 21) was working as a journalist, writing reports of parliamentary debates for a London paper. But during the down time of the parliamentary recess he wrote a comedy story, his first attempt at fiction, called ‘A Dinner at Poplar Walk’ and dropped it off one night in the letterbox of a struggling magazine.
A few weeks later he bought a copy and was stunned to find his story in its pages. He wrote: ‘I walked down to Westminster Hall, and turned into it for half an hour, because my eyes were so dimmed with joy and pride that they could not bear the street, and were not fit to be seen there.’
In this small moment, his life turned around.