CHARLES DICKENS – THE BACKSTORY
Charles Dickens was rocked by the experiences of his youth. Having had a relatively carefree childhood, at the age of 12 a debt crisis in his family resulted in him having to work for two years in a shoe polish factory, where he experienced first-hand the horrors of child labour, neglect, illness and death. Later rescued by his father, he finished school at 16 and began to work, first in a law office and then on the political beat, where he was exposed to the harshness and injustices of terrible laws and the underside of politics.
Once he later established himself as a literary genius and powerhouse, he dedicated his prowess, fame and influence to expose these deep societal ills, paving the way for incredible social change that still reverberates with us today. At the end of his life he was laid in wake for days so as to allow the world to pay its final respects. The common acknowledgement was simple – despite all his success, fame and fortune – he never forgot the less fortunate, the sick and the poor.
Dickens drew serious attention to child labour leading to the enactment of the first child labour laws. He clearly articulated the many social injustices prevalent at the time, leading among other things to the abolition of public executions. He singlehandedly resurrected the spirit of giving and Christmas as a festive family holiday, a worldwide phenomenon that continues to this day. And later in his life, he used his talents and his influence to save the Great Ormond Street Hospital from closing, which today is regarded as the finest children’s hospital in the world, and a model for children’s hospitals everywhere.
ESTABLISHED IN THE SPIRIT OF DICKENS
Two-hundred years later, Dickens’ influences still abound. In the early 1990s, Jeanne Marie Dickens and her late husband Christopher, the great great grandson of Charles Dickens and the then head of the Dickens family, recognized an opportunity to continue Dickens’ legacy. Inspired by the spirit of Charles Dickens, Jeanne Marie Dickens established the Charles Dickens Heritage Foundation and the Charles Dickens Heritage merchandising and licensing program, which over a 10 year period, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for institutions providing care to underprivileged and sick children.
In June, 2008, again using Dickens as her guide, Jeanne Marie’s generous gift of Dickens’ famous desk and chair resulted in the Great Ormond Street Hospital receiving nearly one million dollars from its sale at an exciting Christies’ auction in London. Once again, Dickens influence, generosity and legacy made a substantial and impactful contribution to the health and well being of children, their families and society as a whole.
- By becoming a member of the Charles Dickens Heritage Foundation you will be given exclusive access to a select list of Charles Dickens memorabilia that are currently being licensed and replicated from the originals. These items have been granted to the Foundation from the direct heirs of Charles Dickens as well as various collectors from around the world.
- You will also have the choice to receive invites on upcoming events, such as: celebrity readings, book fairs, and connect with fellow enthusiasts in your community or from around the world.
- Join the Foundation ~ Membership is Free!