Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens IBNS

The celebrate the 200<sup>th birthday of Charles Dickens, here are 20 facts about the one the greatest writers ever to have lived.

1. Dickens admitted that David Copperfield was his favourite work of his, also saying it was his most autobiographical.

2. The publishing of A Christmas Carol (1843) came around the same time as the widespread use of Christmas trees (1841) and the first Christmas card (1843).

3. The original title of the book was: A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.

4. While best known for A Christmas Carol, Dickens actually wrote five books about Christmas: The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain, as well as A Christmas Carol. They were all published between 1843-1848.

5. Dickens suffered seizures brought on by epilepsy. Many of his characters such as Guster from Bleak House, Monks from Oliver Twist, and Bradley Headstone from Our Mutual Friend also suffered from epilepsy.

6. He was also thought to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, apparently combing his hair hundreds of times a day, constantly rearranged the furniture and being obsessed with looking in the mirror.

7. An old toothpick Dickens once cleaned his teeth with fetched over £5,500 at auction in 2009.

8. Dickens died before completing his last novel. The Mystery of Edwin Drood is still unfinished, but some instalments were published, and two films were even made based on the work.

9. Between 1837 and 1852, Dickens' wife Catherine gave birth to 10 children.

10. He gave each of his children nicknames such as Lucifer Box, Plorn and Chickenstalker.

11. Dickens slept facing north, believing it would improve his writing.

12. When he was 12, his father was imprisoned for debt. While his father was in prison, Dickens was sent to work in a boot-blacking factory to help his family.

13. Dickens' books have never been out of print.

14. Dickens managed to survive the famous Staplehurst rail crash on 9 June 1865 in which 40 people were killed. He died five years later to the day.

15. He wished to be buried, without fanfare, in a small cemetery in Rochester, but the British nation would not allow it. He was laid to rest in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey.

16. About a hundred films based on the works of Dickens were produced in the silent era alone in Britain, US and Europe.

17. Dickens was fascinated with mesmerism, aka hypnotism. He practiced it on his wife, a hypochondriac, as well as his children, friends and associates.

18. Dickens had a near-photographic memory of people and events in his chilodhood, which he used in his writing.

19. Dickens was keenly interested in the paranormal, and has even been linked to the famous paranormal investigation group "The Ghost Club" of London.

20. Dickens kept a pet raven named Grip, which he had stuffed when it died in 1841.