This is engaging biography, which successfully reveals the man's lusty merriment, enormous curiosity, zest for life; and reviews his works with keen critical judgment in relation particularly to his free use of his own life and contacts as substance and characterization in his novels. The facts of his life are sketched superficially; the focus is on the personality of the man himself, his idealization of Maria Beadnell, of Mary Hogarth, his unrewarding marriage, brought to an end after twenty years. Shown too, are his sympathy for the poor and destitute, his friendships, -- Leigh Hunt, Carlyle, Wilkie Collins, Bulwer Lytton, Tennyson, Browning- a rich canvas. Here is vividly portrayed the novelist who was as great an actor as writer, who dominated English literary life and captivated- even when he angered- American audiences; who refused invitations of Queen Victoria, who deserted his wife and ten children, and took Ellen Ternan as mistress. A sympathetic, well-written biography, richly illustrated with Dickens' own wit; a biography which ranks with Hesketh Pearson's best work.