Today we present you 21 books by Charles Dickens to download in PDF format. But first, a little history about this renowned writer.
Charles John Huffam Dickens (Portsmouth, February 7, 1812 – Gads Hill Place, June 9, 1870) was an English writer and novelist, one of the most recognized in world literature, and the most outstanding of the Victorian era.
Charles Dickens, as he is usually called, knew how to masterfully handle the narrative genre, humour, the tragic feeling of life, irony, with a sharp and lively social criticism as well as descriptions of people and places, both real and imaginary.
He spent his childhood in London and Kent, places often described in his works. He abandoned his school and was forced to work from a very young age, when his father was imprisoned for debt.
He did most of his education as an autodidact, and his novel “David Copperfield” (1850) is partly autobiographical and records his feelings about it.
From 1827 he began to prepare to work as a reporter, in an uncle’s publication, The Mirror of Parliament, and for the liberal newspaper The Morning Chronicle
He learned shorthand and gradually managed to make a living from his writing; he began writing court reports in order to later take up a position as a parliamentary journalist and finally, under the pseudonym Boz, he published a series of articles inspired by everyday life in London (Sketches by Boz).
The serial publication of practically all his novels created a special relationship with his audience, over whom he came to exert an important influence, and in his novels he spoke more or less directly about the issues of his time.
Charles Dickens was a very well-known personality and his novels were very popular during his lifetime.
Now we leave you with 21 books by Charles Dickens.
1) A Christmas Carol
It tells the story of a greedy and selfish man named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation after being visited by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve.
The book was written and published during the Victorian era, a time when there was great nostalgia for the old Christmas traditions and new traditions were being introduced such as Christmas trees and greeting cards.
Dickens’ inspirations for writing the novel seem to be many and varied, but the main ones are the sad and humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and several Christmas stories and fairy tales.
2) Oliver Twist
With Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens starts the literature dedicated especially to teenagers.
With a strong autobiographical component, this novel tells the adventures of a child who must cope in an inhospitable world, where both goodness and evil are daily bread; but it also shows that if you have solid ethical principles, it is possible to reverse the misfortune and achieve better living conditions.
A beautiful and sensitive story, whose characters reflect the social problems present in all times. Oliver Twist is considered one of the most important novels of the 19th century and a classic of English literature.
3) Great Expectations
Great Expectations is one of the great English author’s most famous titles. Originally published in 1860, it tells the story of Pip, an orphaned and frightened young man, whose humble destiny is graced by an unexpected benefactor who will change his life’s destiny and make him a gentleman.
A wonderful novel of learning and a masterful gallery of protagonists who trace a finished period portrait, while a deep reflection on the constants of the human condition.
The reality of daily life in England and fantasy go hand in hand, showing us an extraordinarily human and detailed world and a peculiar psychology of the characters.
4) David Copperfield
The book is the narrative of David, from his birth to his death, and of those around him, for better or for worse.
The story is told almost entirely from the point of view of a first-person narrator, David Copperfield himself, and it was the first Dickens novel to do so. Since its publication in installments between 1849 and 1850, David Copperfield, the “favorite son” of its author, has left nothing but a trail of admiration, joy, and gratitude.
It was Sigmund Freud’s favorite novel. Kafka imitated it in Amerika and Joyce parodied it in Ulysses. For Cesare Pavese, “in these unforgettable pages each of us (I can’t think of any greater praise) finds his own secret experience”.
5) A Tale of Two Cities
This novel is a classic of 19th century English literature. It deals in parallel with the realities of England and of a revolutionary France.
Taking the French revolution as a point of reference, Dickens shows the social and political problems of England, fearing that history would repeat itself in his native country when he was writing this novel.
In the contrast of these two cities presented, England is presented as the confidence, the tranquility, the assured future, while France becomes more and more dangerous as the novel progresses. The acts of violence carried out by the French people are among the most memorable scenes in the book. Dickens rejects revolutionary violence in its two forms, both in its popular form, by the masses, and in its institutionalized form such as terror.
6) Bleak House
Bleak House, represents for Chesterton the highest point of intellectual maturity of Dickens, his central work.
Esther Summerson, abandoned at birth by her parents, is the ward of John Jarndyce, a powerful gentleman with a good heart who has been fighting for years over an inheritance. Esther has lived at Jarndyce’s residence, Bleak House, since she was eighteen, along with Ada and Richard, John’s teenage cousins, orphaned and homeless because of the disputed inheritance, whom he tries to guide in life.
The novel revolves around the biographical avatars of Esther -whose first-person story is interspersed with that of the narrator- always struggling to find her identity, overcome her origins and succeed socially.
7) The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
This is the first novel by the author, who began publishing the work, in installments, in 1836, when he was only twenty-four years old.
The adventures of Samuel Pickwick and Sam Weller became an overwhelming success and represented the metamorphosis of a young, underpaid journalist into the great 19th century English novelist, when the first lights of the Victorian era were dawning.
The unforgettable members of the absurd Pickwick Club star here, according to the generous tradition of Cervantes, an infinite succession of crazy, comic, sad adventures, always transiting from a kindness perhaps never equaled.
8) Nicholas Nickleby
The novel tells the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after the death of his father. His uncle Ralph, who thinks Nicholas will never achieve anything, plays the role of an antagonist.
The novel is, first of all, a fierce satirical attack on the Yorkshire schools of the time, where youngsters were brutally treated by greedy and cruel individuals, who having demonstrated their absolute incompetence in all sorts of trades and businesses, only had to become teachers as a last resort. The contemporary reader may find the description of Mr. Squeers and his school exaggerated.
Nevertheless, the author assures us that it is only a pale portrait of a reality deliberately softened so as not to be taken as impossible.
9) Little Dorrit
Little Dorrit tells the story of a young girl whose father is jailed for many years for debts; in fact, she herself is born in prison and grows up there, although she can leave it when she chooses.
On the other hand, the avatars of Arthur Clennam, a man who has dedicated himself to the family business abroad and who returns to London with the purpose of changing his life completely, are also attended to. Arthur meets Amy Dorrit at her mother’s house, who has hired her as a seamstress, and thus learns the girl’s unfortunate story.
Soon both characters will understand that their lives have many points in common, and the fate of both will change as events unfold.
10) Hard times
In life, the only thing that matters are the facts. With these words of the sinister Mr. Gradgrind begins the novel: Hard Times, a novel in which from the beginning to the end the theme is the desperate search for happiness by its characters.
Situated in an industrial city in the north of England, the reader witnesses the slow and progressive destruction of the doctrine of facts, which pretends to be unrelenting but which, filtering into the lives of the characters, remodels them, sinking some of them and infusing them with new life.
Hard Times is Dickens’ most critical and passionate novel and at the same time, as all the works of this author, it is an ambitious exploration, deep and intelligent, of the English society of two centuries ago.
11) Dombey and Son
Dombey and Son is a novel that follows the fate of a shipping company owner who is frustrated by the lack of a son to follow in his footsteps; he initially rejects his daughter’s love before reconciling with her before his death.
The story presents many Dickensian themes, such as arranged marriages, child cruelty, betrayal, deception and relationships between people of different classes. The novel was first published in monthly installments between 1846 and 1848, with illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne (‘Phiz’)
12) Martin Chuzzlewit
Martin Chuzzlewit is a satire in which the young Martin acts as an ironic observer of American society, which does not come out well in his considerations.
Catalogued within the picaresque genre, this novel is, indeed, a corrosive critique of the social and political panorama of the youth of the United States of America.
But it is also a novel of intrigue formed essentially by three elements: the plot around Pecksniff-Jonas, both unforgettable characters, which includes the psychological study of a criminal and the investigation of the crime; the journey of young Martin to Eden, basically the political satire of American society; and what happens around the extraordinary Sarah Gamp and Associates, which is interwoven with the first plot.
13) Our Mutual Friend
Our Mutual Friend, is the last novel by Dickens, published in installments between 1864 and 1865. In the opening chapter, a young man goes to London to receive his father’s inheritance, which, according to his father’s will, he can only receive if he marries Bella Wilfer, a beautiful young woman he has never met.
However, before he arrives, a body is found floating in the Thames, and the police identify it as his, so he is presumed dead. The inheritance then passes to Boffins, his father’s uneducated worker -he cannot read- and the effects of this spread to all ends of London society.
A masterpiece, in which a pessimistic and mature Dickens shows all the strength of his prose and inventiveness in a true exercise of literary virtuosity.
14) The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the last novel by Charles Dickens, it was unfinished at the time of his death and therefore it is unknown how it could have ended.
The novel is named after Edwin Drood, but mostly tells the story of his uncle, a music teacher named John Jasper, who is in love with his student, Rosa Bud, but this is Drood’s fiancée. To further entangle the affair, a couple of brothers from Ceylon, Helena and Neville Landless, enter the scene, attracted by the future spouses, a fact that quickly becomes the domain of the people of the town.
Then what nobody expects happens. Edwin and Rosa break off their engagement, and the young man disappears, leaving no other trace than a watch and tie clip abandoned in the riverbed that crosses the town.
15) Barnaby Rudge
Barnaby Rudge is a historical novel. It was one of two novels (the other was The Old Curiosity Shop) that Dickens published in his short weekly series “Master Humphrey’s Clock”. Barnaby Rudge is mainly developed during Gordon’s 1780 riots.
Barnaby Rudge was the fifth of Dickens’ novels to be published. Initially it had been planned to appear as the first, but changes of editor caused many delays, and it first appeared in serial form in The Clock from February to November 1841.
It is one of his least popular novels and has rarely been adapted for film or television. The last production was a BBC production in 1960; before that, silent films were made in 1911 and 1915.
16) American Notes for General Circulation
American Notes for General Circulation is a travel diary by Charles Dickens detailing his journey to North America from January to June 1842.
While there he acted as a critical observer of American society, almost as if he were returning a status report on its progress. This can be compared to the style of his Images of Italy written four years later, where he wrote much more like a tourist.
His American journey was also an inspiration for his novel Martin Chuzzlewit. Having arrived in Boston, he visited Lowell, New York, and Philadelphia, and traveled as far south as Richmond, as far west as St. Louis, and as far north as Quebec. The city he liked best was Boston: “the air was so clear, the houses were so bright and cheerful. The city is beautiful, and I imagine that it cannot fail to impress all strangers in a very favorable way…”
17) The Chimes
The Chimes is a tale of elves published in 1844. The book was written during Dickens’ one-year stay in Italy. John Foster, his first biographer, writes that Dickens was looking for a title and a structure for the next Christmas book he had under contract, when he discovered the sound of the Genoa bells, which could be heard from the villa where he was staying.
Two days later, Dickens sent Foster a letter that only said, “We have heard the midnight call, Master Trivial,” and immediately began writing the book. According to Foster, Dickens’ intention in writing this book was to “strike a blow for the poor.
The title refers to the old church bells on whose door Toby Veck (“Trotty”), the novel’s protagonist, officiates. The book is divided into four parts called “quarters”, a name Dickens takes from the quarter hours that ring out on a clock.
18) The Cricket on the Hearth
The story takes place in three days and is divided into three songs. The cricket, symbol of peace in humble homes, is the axis of the story: in the first song, the cricket is happy; in the second, it is silent; in the third, it sings again.
Dickens has written a prose poem about home life and marital affection, an outline of the life of simple people.
It combines Dickens’ main skills. On the one hand, the humor with which he presents his characters (the deafness of the mysterious old man, the careless baby whose head hits the walls) or mockingly dialogues with the reader; on the other hand, the use of the basic resources of the plot, from the unusual chance to the recognition of the characters.
19) The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
The Haunted Man is a short novel published in 1848. Mr. Redlaw is a lonely, taciturn, pessimistic professor of chemistry who likes to ruminate on the damage done to him and the tribulations he has suffered.
One night a spirit appears to Redlaw who is really nothing more than his own ghostly twin. This spectre makes Redlaw a proposal: it can allow him to “forget the pain, the damage and the problems he has known (…) cancel his memory”. The professor hesitates at first, but then agrees.
As a consequence, Redlaw is left without memories of the painful incidents of his past, but he experiences a rage that he cannot explain. His bitterness spreads and everyone feels as angry as Redlaw himself.
20) The Old Curiosity Shop
Little Nell Trent is an orphan and lives with her grandfather in the antique store he runs. Marked by poverty, both try to get by, until the grandfather turns to the evil pawnbroker Daniel Quilp, a deformed and hunchbacked dwarf.
From the moment Quilp enters the scene, Nell and her grandfather embark on a journey through England. They travel through small villages, sooty cities, and places full of misery.
And in their pilgrimage, in the purest Cervantine tradition, they alternate with a colorful gallery of characters: fairground owners, fire-reading charcoal burners, teachers, dog trainers, traveling museum owners, dandies with a tragic feeling for life and stubborn ponies.
21) Master Humphrey's Clock
Master Humphrey’s Clock was a weekly magazine edited and written entirely by Charles Dickens and published from April 4, 1840 to December 4, 1841.
It began with a framed story, in which Master Humphrey tells us about himself and his small circle of friends, including Mr. Pickwick, and also reveals his love of storytelling.
Master Humphrey is a lonely man who lives in London. He keeps old manuscripts in an old grandfather clock by the fireplace. One day he decides to found a small club, called Master Humphrey’s Clock, where members will read his writings to others. These members are Master Humphrey, a deaf gentleman, Jack Redburn, retired merchant Owen Miles, and Mr. Pickwick, a character in The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.