What the Dickens...?

Today the 200th anniversary of Charles Dicken's birth is being celebrated.

What do you know about him and his works?


Read this summary of his life and watch the video that follows:


Source: adonais9991 (You Tube) key words: life charles dickens bbc
Video Vocabulary:

siblings -

adulthood -

an ambitious drive -

widespread (adj) -

to set sail -

to be mobbed by crowds -

upon his return -

a refuge -

spellbound (adj) -

fateful (adj) -

the injured -

to retrieve -

wrecked carriage -

shaken (adj) -

a while -

to fail (health) -

a stroke

to be buried -



Now answer the following questions about the video:
  1. How many brothers and sisters did he have?
  2. When did the Dickens family move to London?
  3. What did Charles' work consist of in the "blacking" factory?
  4. Why was Charles' father sent to prison?
  5. What job did he begin in 1827?
  6. What job did he begin in 1831?
  7. What two things happened to Charles in 1835?
  8. What were the rumours that circulated as he became more famous?
  9. What inspired his writing while in America?
  10. What things did he do after returning from Italy?
  11. What did he do when he was 44?
  12. What caused the end of his marriage?
  13. What did Charles do after the train he was travelling in crashed?
  14. How old was he when he died?




Watch this video while following the transcript:


Source: BBC Learning English (You Tube) key words: Dickens teacher bbc English

London. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots. Dogs, undistinguishable in the mire. Horses, scarcely better, splashed to their very blinkers. Fog everywhere.

Hang on. It's not like that at all any more. There's no fog, there's no mud, there are no dogs or horses ... In fact it's not Dickensian.

In English, if we want to describe hard-living or working conditions - like something from one of my novels - we can call it Dickensian.

Dickensian.

Strange horse

I wrote these ...

Modern London is very tiring. I think I need to take some rest in one of my favorite public houses. I'm pleased to see it's still here.

I can't believe it! He tried to charge me £ 3.50 for a pint of beer. I said to him "That's ten weeks' wages for a 12 year-old boy in a factory." I offered him half a penny and he said, "Please, Sir. I want some more."

As if stealing one of my lines was not bad enough, when I refused to pay, he called me a scrooge.

In English, when we want to talk about someone who hates spending money, we can call them a scrooge, which is the name of one of my characters. He was very mean with money.

A scrooge

Scrooge was just one of the many characters I created who are among the most memorable in English literature.

But some say London itself is a character in my novels.

A character that has changed.

What the Dickens is that?

In English, if we are surprised or angry, we can say, 'What the Dickens ...?'

What the Dickens ...?

What the Dickens is that?

It's my iQuill.

'What the Dickens ...?'  is a bit of an old fashioned expression, but then I'm an old fashioned man. In fact, I'm dead. And I've been dead since 1870. I'm buried over there in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, with some of the greatest writers of the English language. So, in a way I'm still here in London, although it's a very different London to that of my memories ...

... And I'll be buried in the Teachers' Corner, along with the Greatest Teachers of the English language ...


Read through these quotes from Charles Dickens. Source: brainyquote What is your favourite one?



Perhaps his most famous novel is A Christmas Carol. Read the simplified version (with comprehension exercises) and then watch the film Scrooge.


Read this report on what Dickens would write about if he were alive today Source: channel4 news

Comments

Montse said…
Hi, Graham. I haven't understand all the quotes from Dickens but i like this one: "We forge the chains we wear in life". I've liked this exercise a lot. I send you my answers.
1. How many brothers and sisters did he have? He has seven siblings but only five of them got to adulthood.
2. When did the Dickens family move to London? The moved to London in 1822.
3. What did Charles' work consist of in the "blacking" factory? He had to label bottles.
4. Why was Charles' father sent to prison? He was sent for bad debt.
5. What job did he begin in 1827? He started to work as a solicitor clerk.
6. What job did he begin in 1831? He began to work as a journalist.
7. What two things happened to Charles in 1835? He published his first piece of fiction and he got married to Catherine Hogarth.
8. What were the rumours that circulated as he became more famous? They were about he always was drunk and his admission in an asylum.
9. What inspired his writing while in America?
10. What things did he do after returning from Italy? He edited a new radical newspaper, founded a refuge for homeless women and performed his words in public readings
11. What did he do when he was 44? He bought Gad’s Hill, the house his father pointed at him many years before in symbolism the pinnacle of his achievement.
12. What caused the end of his marriage? The relationship with actress Ellen Ternan.
13. What did Charles do after the train he was travelling in crashed? He went back to the train to retrieve the final part of “Our mutual friend”.
14. How old was he when he died? He was 58 years old.
Graham said…
Montse,

I HAVEN'T UNDERSTOOD / I DON'T UNDERSTAND all the quotes from Dickens but i like this one:

1. How many brothers and sisters did he have? He HAD seven siblings but only five of them got to adulthood.
4. Why was Charles' father sent to prison? He was SENT TO PRISON for bad debt.
8. They were about he WAS ALWAYS DRUNK and his ADMISSION TO an asylum.
9. "Dickens' interests lay in visiting the unusual"
11. He bought Gad’s Hill, the house his father HAD POINTED OUT TO him many years before...

Maybe yesterday's lesson would have WORKED OUT better with you in it. Nobody knew anything about Dickens.