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Author Charles Dickens
Genres Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Sketch i
Subjects Character; Character Sketches; Caricature
Europe—Description and Travel
Health; Diseases; Personal Injuries; Hygiene; Cleanliness—Fiction
National Characteristics; Nationalism
Psychology; Psychiatry; Mental Health; Mind-Body Relations (Metaphysics)
Travel; Tourism; Hotels; Resorts; Seaside Resorts—Fiction; Passports;
Other Details
Printed : 9/10/1852
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume VI
Magazine : No. 133
Office Book Notes
Views : 684

The writing of 'sketches of character', descriptions of social, moral or occupational types, was a flourishing genre in the first half of the nineteenth century, both in France and in Britain. Notable practitioners were Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt, and Dickens himself had supplied several specimens in his Sketches by Boz (see also his 1837 Bentley's piece, 'Some Particulars Concerning a Lion' in Vol. 1 of [the Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens' Journalism], pp. 508–12). A classic collection of such pieces was the artist Kenny Meadows's Heads of the People (1840), in which his 'portraits' accompanied essays by Douglas Jerrold, Leigh Hunt and others with such titles as 'The Diner-Out', 'The Spoilt Child', 'The Teetotaller', and so on.

Literary allusions

  • 'England with all thy faults...': William Cowper, The Task (1785), 'The Time-piece', 1. 206. 
Author: Michael Slater; © J. M. Dent/Orion Publishing Group, Dickens' Journalism Volume III: 'Gone Astray' and Other Papers from Household Words, 1851–59 (1998). DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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