The Quirks Of Charles Dickens
Every good author is quirky. Let’s face it, they are the creative souls. So why would Charles Dickens be any different? The truth is, he’s not. He was probably the quirkiest character of his own creation. So here’s 15 little known facts about Charles Dickens.
1. He suffered from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). He would look in a mirror and comb his hair hundreds of times a day. He rearranged furniture in his home over and over again, making sure they were in the “correct” position. He was obsessed with magnetic fields and made sure that every bed he ever slept in was aligned with north and south. He was compulsive about cleaning, not even just his own home but the homes of others!
2. He was an epileptic. His suffering manifested itself int some of his fictional characters, like Oliver Twist’s brother. His descriptions of the disease astound modern medical experts today.
3. He loved nicknames. He used them often and gave some of his most endearing characters nicknames, Pip. Every single one of his ten children all had nicknames, including my personal favorites Skittles and Chickenstalker.
4. He loved practical jokes. His study has a secret door that looks like a bookshelf. Now you can tell this because all the books are fake that are on the shelf. There’s Noah’s Arkitecture and a nine-volume set titled Cat’s Lives. My personal favorites, however, are The Wisdom of Our Ancestors series which features subjects like ignorance, superstition, disease, and instruments of torture. There’s a companion book called The Virtures of Our Ancestors that is so thin that the title had to be printed vertically!
5. He was very full of himself. He referred to himself as the “Sparkler of Albion”, Albion being the archaic name for England. He also called himself the “Bard of Avon”, virtually comparing himself to Shakespeare.
6. He was not a very good friend. Hans Christian Andersen was Dickens’ friend, such good friends that Andersen actually dedicated his Poet’s Day Dream to Dickens. However, this feeling was quickly dampened when Andersen came to stay with the family. Apparently Dickens had no trouble in letting his friend know he had overstayed his welcome. Dickens left a sign for his friend on the mirror in the guest room which read: “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks, which seemed to the family like AGES.” Lovely friend!
7. He was a practicing mesmerist. Mesmerism was the practice of healing through hypnotism. He used it on his hypochondriac wife, friends, and his own children. He made the claim that he had cured several of them!
8. The name Dickens is actually considered a curse word. It was created by another famous British author. By no other than Shakespeare himself.
9. Dickens was a firm believer in luck. He never touched anything just once. Nope, he had to touch everything three times. Now this could be his belief in luck or could be seen as another quirky OCD thing.
10. There are those of us who love our animals and then there are the others. You know the ones. The “my cat is my kid and I will treat it as such” people. Dickens had his own version of obsession with his cat, Bob. His favorite letter opener was in fact made from Bob’s claw! Now that’s someone with a love for their cat.
11. He was extremely interested in the paranormal. In fact, Dickens has been linked to the paranormal investigating group called “The Ghost Club” of London.
12. Every single one of Dickens’ books are a reflection of Dickens himself. In fact all of his books have characters based on people in his life and stories that are direct reflections of the man himself.
13. Dickens was a hero. He was on a train when the it derailed over a bridge. He was on the only first class car that didn’t plummet into the river below. He found the key that freed his friends and then went on to the carriages below giving water and brandy to those in need. He also climbed back into the dangling car and retrieved Our Mutual Friend from his coat pocket. He was never given any public appreciation for these actions because he was with his mistress at the time.
14. Fallen women owe a lot to Charles Dickens. In Victorian England women had very few options to support themselves and their families. Prostitution was a common practice but also a severely punishable crime. Dickens helped created “Urania House” after a plea from heriess Angela Coutts. He would go to workhouses and prisons looking for potential candidates. He established the house rules. In the end, about 100 women graduated from Urania House.
15. Dickens left the world with a mystery. In fact, it is a mystery that has been retold multiple times. It is The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the half written novel that was never completed because of Dickens’ own death. Dickens left no clues behind as to who killed his protagonist and therefore the ending is wide open.