Charles Dickens needs no formal introduction, having been the most popular English writer of the 19th century and still being one of the most popular writers today. Dickens' upbringing was a mixture of happy times and sad: when he recalled his father being sent to debtor's prison in his memoirs, his tears actually left marks on the page. His childhood experiences eventually forged him into the man many regard as the greatest Victorian era novelist - the author of remarkable fictional characters who retain tremendous staying power to this day, including Fagin, Peepy, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist, to name just a few.
Unlike other great writers and artists, during his own lifetime Dickens' works enjoyed remarkable popularity and renown, to such an extent that even Queen Victoria and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli felicitated and feted Dickens. In the 20th century, well after Dickens' passing, his literary genius was truly and completely appreciated by ordinary readers as well as critics and scholars. Dickens' novels, novellas, and short stories retain powerful and enduring popularity among the public, largely because Dickens connected history with the present through universal bridges.