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The Pickwick Papers began as a literary spoof centred around sketches of stock sporting fops by caricaturist Robert Seymour. Following the success of Sketches By Boz, Dickens was recruited to compose the words which would accompany the illustrations. Dickens quickly made the project his own and created some of his most popular characters- Samuel Pickwick, and his companions Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman. At the height of its popularity The Pickwick Papers sold 40,000 copies a month and catapulted the 24 year old Dickens to fame.
Charles Dickens was born in Hampshire on February 7, 1812. His father was a clerk in the navy pay office, who was well paid but often ended up in financial troubles. When Dickens was twelve years old he was send to work in a shoe polish factory because his family had be taken to the debtors' prison.Fagin is named after a boy Dickens disliked at the factory. His career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays began to appear in periodicals. The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836. In the same year he married the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of Oliver Twist began in 1837 while The Pickwick Papers was still running. Many other novels followed and The Old Curiosity Shop brought Dickens international fame and he became a celebrity America as well as Britain. He separated from his wife in 1858. Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.