Filled with twists, pathos and unusual characters, the mystery of Charles Dickens looks back from the legendary writer's death to recall the key events in his life. In doing so, a. N. Wilson seeks to understand Dickens's creative genius and enduring popularity. Following him from cradle to grave, it becomes clear that Dickens's fiction drew from his own experiences - a fact he acknowledged. Like Oliver twist, Dickens suffered a wretched childhood, then grew up to become not only a respectable gentleman but an artist of prodigious popularity. Dickens knew first-hand the poverty and pain his characters endured, including the scandal of a failed marriage. Going beyond standard narrative biography, Wilson brilliantly revisits the wellspring of Dickens's vast and wild imagination, revealing why his novels have such instantaneous appeal and why they continue to resonate today. He also uncovers the double standards of both the man and his times.