Charles Dickens – The Master of Creativity

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Charles Dickens transposed his early life experiences into literary creations. His world was one of lovable, foolish, blundering, blustering, mischievous, playful and hopeful children. He literally poured his mental and physical energies into the creation of some of the most memorable characters in literary fiction.

Mr Micawber

One of the most memorable of his characters for me is Mr Micawber, the impractical, impoverished landlord of David Copperfield, who was imprisoned for debt. This is a thinly veiled portrait of John Dickens, the father of Charles Dickens.

John Dickens was incapable of living within his means. When Charles Dickens was ten years old, John Dickens debt had become so severe that all the household goods were sold, and reduced circumstances and the demands of a growing family (they had eight children in all) meant that there was no money left to educate his son.

Charles Dickens – The Master of Creativity

Debtors Prison

When Charles was twelve years old his father was imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors Prison when he could not meet the family debts. John Dickens wife and two of his children followed him into prison. Charles himself, two days after his twelve birthday had to go to work at Warrens Blacking Factory – wrapping shoe-black bottles for six shillings a week.


He felt humiliated and disgraced by these experiences. He called it “the secret agony of my soul.” He became determined never to be short of money and his compassion for poor, abused, abandoned children permeates his writings. These experiences gave him a keen, personal insight into the social conditions of his time. It fuelled his social conscience and powered his ambitions.

Poverty and Ignorance – The Twin Enemies

For Charles Dickens the twin enemies of society were poverty and ignorance. In his writings he sought to expose these conditions and if possible to eradicate them. Dickens was not just a writer of fiction, he was also a social reformer and a champion of the poor.

Charles Dickens – The Master of Creativity

Mr Micawber’s Advice

Charles Dickens has immortalised these experiences in what I consider to be his finest book, David Copperfield. In that book he puts his financial philosophy into the mouth of Mr Micawber as follows:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”

In other words if you spend less than you earn then you will be happy.