The Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) had a hard childhood. His father was imprisoned for debt when Charles was only 12, and he himself was sent to work in a blacking factory. After his father’s release he resumed his schooling for three or four years before becoming an office boy for a solicitor. In 1828 he became a reporter for the ‘Morning Chronicle’, and he started writing short stories and sketches for magazines under the pen name of ‘Boz’. In early 1836 ‘Sketches by Boz’ were collected and published, and in March of the same year the serialisation of ‘Pickwick Papers’ began. Dickens’ novels are a vivid portrayal of social life in Victorian England, much of it derived from his own experience, and show his abiding concern with social deprivation and injustice.Dickens stayed in Dover on a number of occasions and also made frequent trips through the port on his way to the Continent, often staying at the Lord Warden Hotel. He found that he worked well in Dover and particularly enjoyed his walks along the cliffs. Dover is referred to in many of Dickens’s novels and articles and it features prominently in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘David Copperfield’. In 1852 Dickens stayed at 10 Camden Crescent for three months while he was writing “Bleak House”. He is said to have frequented the Pilot Field, the high ground behind Snargate Street, lying on his back in the sun, planning his work. Although he didn’t find Dover entirely to his liking, writing to Mary Boyle on 22 July 1852 from Dover he said: “My Dear Mary, you do scant justice to Dover. It is not quite to my taste, being too bandy (I mean musical; no reference to its legs) and infinitely too genteel. But the sea is very fine, and the walks are quite remarkable.” In November 1861 he stayed at the Lord Warden Hotel during one of his reading tours and read at the Apollonian Hall, on Snargate Street for two hours. He had a favourable reception from his audience which he describes in a letter to Miss Hogarth. He spoke “before a large and intelligent audience”, who “wouldn’t go, but sat applauding like mad”, “the audience withthe greatest sense of humour certainly is Dover”. In the same letter he describes rough weather at sea observed from the shore: “The storm was most magnificent at Dover… The sea came in like a great sky of immense clouds, forever breaking suddenly into furious rain… The unhappy Ostend packet unable to get in or go back, beat about the Channel all Tuesday night and until noon yesterday, when I saw her come in, with five men at the wheel, a picture of misery inconceivable.”Dickens himself crossed the Channel on many occasions and probably drew on his own experiences, and observations like the one above, for his account of cross-Channel travel in his work ‘The Uncommercial Traveller’.