While there’s been a lot of attention on Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life it isn’t the only new Dickens biography around. Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst also gives us a look at the private life of Charles Dickens. However Douglas-Fairhurst’s book is a little different. Rather than focusing on the entire life of Dickens, the biography examines Dickens’s life in the 1830s.
Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England’s greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens’s early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by “what might have been, and what was not.”
Douglas-Fairhurst’s provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements.