This comprehensive biography of the great 19th-century novelist combines extensive research and documentation, including much new speculation on the nature of his affair with Ellen Ternan, with imaginative reconstruction of the writer's thoughts.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 1256 pages, b&w photographs
- Publisher: Cornerstone
- Publication Date: 05/09/1991
- Category: Biography: general
- ISBN: 9780749306472
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by herschelian
I have read several biographies of Dickens, and this one by Ackroyd is for me the best. After reading it I felt I knew and understood Dickens better than I do some members of my own family.
Review by john257hopper
At last, after two months and 21 days of reading. There is no doubt that this biography, at 1144 exhaustively researched pages, is a monumental literary achievement. There is plenty of rich content, but also some dull content in places. Unfortunately, the book is structured in such a way as to make it very difficult to read. The chapters are mostly too long, with no titles, thus making orientation throughout the book more difficult. The paragraphs are very long, quite often a whole page or more. Ackroyd never uses 10 words when he can use 100 and makes the same points over and over again e.g. about the symptoms of Dickens's illnesses, his regression to his childhood, the need to carry on working to fulfill a sense of purpose, etc. etc. There are some odd little unexplained fictional interludes at the end of some chapters and an unattributed interview with the author at the end of one of them in the middle of the book. So, in short, a difficult and challenging work, one that I will certainly never read again from cover to cover, but the ultimate work of reference on the great author's life. This makes it very hard to rate, and 3.5/5 is the highest I can go.