Hibbert traces the facts of Dickens' life into Dickens' fiction. The chapters provide interesting speculations on the guises and attitudes that Dickens might be said to have assumed in his characters--Dickens the court stenographer, the Parliamentary reporter, the young lover, the husband, the middle-aged romantic, the father, etc. Generous excerpts from the novels are documented with the Dickens personal record and with relevant comments from his correspondence. There is no index, but the seven stages of life as Dickens lived it are presented in compact chapters, each copiously footnoted at the end of the book, and the bibliography is extensive. The author prepared it as a labor of love and that's how the surprisingly large numbers of addicted Dickens readers will read it. For the college student with a course on the late 19th century English novelists, this is a pleasantly informative trot that covers more ground more adequately than the ""Review and Notes On..."" paperbacks that only deal with one novel at a time.