Monday, October 30, 2017

Dickens and Christmas, by Lucinda Hawksley. Pen and Sword History, 2017

Lucinda Hawksley is a direct descendant of Charles Dickens, so she is uniquely placed to write about his life. Her book relates an abbreviated biography of Dickens, with emphasis on how he himself celebrated Christmas, how England in general celebrated, and his works of fiction about Christmas.

A Christmas Carol is the one piece by Dickens that nearly everyone in the English speaking world knows. Even if they have never read it, pretty much everyone has seen one or more of the many film, TV, or cartoon versions. Everyone associates Dickens with Christmas, even more than they associate him with orphans and grim poverty. That didn’t start recently; it started as soon as he published Carol. He wrote four more Christmas stories, which cemented his position as the king of Christmas. The people of England came to expect his Christmas stories, which became a huge burden on him. He wanted to write other books, books that shined a light on the horrors of poverty. He solved the problem by creating a monthly magazine, and hired others to write stories for the Christmas edition.

Hawksley tells Dicken’s story in calm prose, and doesn’t spare him from examination. His childhood poverty, his perpetual money problems (most of them created by his large family), his marital problems, are all examined. I found it a very interesting look into his life. I also liked that the author related how the celebration of Christmas was changing, due both to the Industrial Revolution and Prince Albert’s bringing German customs over to England. Hawksley weaves all the strands together well. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received my copy of this book free from Net Galley in return for an honest review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.  


  1. Definitely putting this on my "Holiday read" list. Thanks.

  2. Definitely putting this on my "Holiday read" list. Thanks.