Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833, he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.
Gr 3 Up Until 1934, when the last of Dickens' children died, this remained a private document, unpublished at the author's wish. It was written for his own children as a simple introduction to Jesus Christ. Always a rebel against religious pomposity and high-flown theology, Dickens intended his family to learn about the human Christ who served the poor, loved children, and lived a beautiful and blameless life. He seldom alludes to Christ's divinity. Since this is a father's personal statement and not a faithful version of Gospels and Acts, perhaps he can be forgiven the condescensions and discrepancies appearing in the manuscript, such as confusing Herodias with Salome and Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany, stating that the Hebrew Sabbath occurs on Sunday, and eliminating Moses and Elijah from the Transfiguration. Unfortunately, however, an anti-Semitic tone appears whenever he mentions the Jews by name. He both ignores Jesus' Jewishness and the fact that his followers were largely Jewish. The work is probably best viewed as a period piece done with the author's usual charm and fervor, including earnest asides to his audience, but not polished with his usual care. The format is handsome. Each page of text is framed with a decorative border. The full-page illustrations, done in warm soft colors, are crisp and solid. There are no references to specific New Testament sources. Foreward, afterward, facsimiles of pages from the manuscript, and several prayers of the Dickens family are also included. Patricia Pearl, First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, Va.
Reverend Frederick Buechner author of On the Road with the Archangel and Listening to Your Life Perhaps the most touching aspect of Charles Dickens's The Life of Our Lord is how in it he sets all his literary powers aside and tells the Gospel story in the simple, artless language of any father telling it to his children. It is not surprising, remembering his own troubled childhood as he was surely remembering it himself, that he sums up the Christian message by saying that it is to do good even to those who do evil to us and to be always gentle, merciful, and forgiving.