Charles John Huffam Dickens (February 7, 1812 – June 9, 1870) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature's most iconic characters.
Many of his novels, with their recurrent concern for social reform, first appeared in magazines in serialised form, a popular format at the time. Unlike other authors who completed entire novels before serialisation, Dickens often created the episodes as they were being serialized. The practice lent his stories a particular rhythm, punctuated by cliffhangers to keep the public looking forward to the next instalment. The continuing popularity of his novels and short stories is such that they have never gone out of print.
His work has been praised for its mastery of prose and unique personalities by writers such as George Gissing, Leo Tolstoy and G. K. Chesterton, though others, such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, criticised it for sentimentality and implausibility.
During his first American tour, Charles Dickens arrived in Philadelphia on March 5, 1842 and took lodgings at the United States Hotel. Poe, living and working in the city, wrote Dickens, requesting an interview. With the letter, he sent his TALES OF THE GROTESQUE AND ARABESQUE as well as his two reviews of Dicken's BARNABY RUDGE.
Dickens replied to Poe the next day:
"I shall be very glad to see you, whenever you will do me the favor to call. I think I am more likely to be in the way between half past eleven and twelve, than at any other time.
"I have glanced over the books you have been so kind as to send me; and more particularly at the papers to which you called my attention. I have the greter pleasure in expressing my desire to see you, on their account.
"Apropos of the 'constrcution' of Caleb Williams. Do you know that Godwin wrote it backwards -- the last volume first -- and that when he had produced the hunting-down of Caleb, and the Catastrophe, he waited for months, casting about for a means of accounting for what he had done?"
The next day, March 7, Poe had two long interviews with Dickens at the United States Hotel. They discussed the state of American poetry. Poe read Emerson's poem "To the Humble Bee." Dickens promised to find an English publisher for Poe's work. Poe gave Dickens an invitation from publisher George R. Graham to contribute to his magazine.