In September 1860 Dickens burnt thousands of letters on a bonfire at his home at Gad’s Hill Place in Kent. He also wrote to friends asking them to destroy any letters that they had received from him. We know that Dickens had always kept secrets from his friends and relatives. When he was a child his father was arrested for debt and sent to the Marshalsea Prison in Southwark. Yet during his lifetime he only told two people about this event. The same is true of his experiences working in the Warren's Blacking Factory. Dickens admitted he had fears about what biographers would say about him in the books written after his death. Why was Dickens so ashamed about these events and what influence did it have on his work? This biography attempts to answer these questions. It also includes a large collection of primary sources so that the reader can make up their own mind about this deeply flawed genius.
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