Charles Dickens was born near Portsmouth on February 7, 1812. He was the second of eight children. His father John Dickens worked as an 'extra clerk' in the Naval Pay Office. He was a warm and pleasant person, but allways had a poor head for finances. So he later led his family into serious financial problems.
Charles's early childhood, however, was happy. When he was two years old, his family moved briefly to London, and then to Chatham, a naval base thirty miles south-east of London. There his family lived between 1817 and 1822. Charles loved the sights and sounds of the busy shipbuilding center, and both his parents encouraged his early devotion to such eighteenth-century prose masters as Henry Fielding, Oliver Goldsmith, and Tobias Smollett. Unlike other children, Charles enjoyed reading very much instead of playing games.
The less pleasant times .
Charles Dickens and his family moved in 1822 to London because of money problems. Charles had been taken from school and his father was arrested for debt and taken to the Marshalsea debtor's prison. Later he was joined there by the rest of his family, except Charles: to help his family's finances, he had been sent to work in Warren's Blacking Factory. There he had to wrap and label bottles of blacking (a kind of shoe polish) for a wage of six shillings a week. He was forced to work twelve hours a day in unpleasant surroundings, earning only just enough to buy food and wander alone around London. .
Charles was deeply affected by these events: esspecialy his family's fall from fortune and his loneliness in the factory changed him as a person and shaped his outlook as a writer and social critic. Later he remarked of this part of his life:.
"How much I suffered, it is . utterly beyond my power to tell . No words can express the secret agony of my soul.".
He could never forget this period of lonely hopelessness and almost never mentioned it even to his closest friends.