Books or novels are pieces of our soul. Some people love reading them while others, even when they aren’t keen to reading, have a favorite book out of the ocean of options out there, and most of those favorite books from people are pretty successful ones you’ve heard about.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is more than a great example of this. It wasn’t popular and many people’s favorite during its release only but also right now in 2021.
But how did the book reach the top? Was it the author? The plot? Or maybe both? And also, did the author receive what he deserved for what is considered nowadays as a masterpiece?
We’ll have to go over several details to find the answers.
Who Was Charles Dickens? – Early Years
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, and is the father of Dickens. He was an English novelist, journalist, and editor.
Dickens is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 19th-century. He is best known for his portrayal of the Victorian-era poor and for helping to create social change.
He was the second child of eight. John Dickens was his father and a naval clerk who dreamed of making it big. Charles’ mother, Elizabeth Barrow, aspired for a career as a teacher and school administrator.
The family was poor despite his parents’ best efforts, but they were happy in their early years regardless of poverty.
They moved to Chatham in Kent in 1816. There, Dickens and his siblings could explore the country and the old castle at Rochester.
The Dickens family moved from London to Camden Town in 1822.
The family’s financial position was already dire by this time, as John Dickens, a man who lived beyond his family’s means developed a dangerous habit. Then 12 years old, Charles witnessed the imprisonment of his father in 1824 for being in debt.
After his father’s arrest, Charles was made to leave school and work in a boot-blacking plant along the River Thames, where he made six shillings per week at the factory that was rodent-ridden and run-down.
He labeled pots of blacking, a substance used for cleaning fireplaces.
Dickens viewed the event as when he said goodbye to his innocence and stated that he was unsure how he could have been so easily thrown away at such an early age.
He felt abandoned by those who were supposed to care for him and was betrayed. These feelings would become a theme in his writings.
Dickens was able to return to school after his father gave him a large inheritance and used it to pay off his debts.
Dickens’ education was halted when he was 15 years old. To support his family’s income, Dickens had to quit school in 1827 and become an office boy. It turned out that the job was a great launching pad for his writing career.
Dickens began freelance reporting for the London law courts within one year of his first job.
A few years later, he was reporting for two London newspapers.
He started submitting sketches to various newspapers in 1833. His first book, Sketches By Boz., published his clippings in 1836.
The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club were published the following year.
The Posthumous Books of the Pickwick Club was a hit with readers. Dickens’ captions were actually more popular than their illustrations.
He edited magazines like Household Words, All the Year Round, and more to this point and his journalist and editor career.
However, his writer and novelist career was just emerging.
A Tale of Two Cities: Plot + History
Going back to our main topic, we’re here to review Charles Dickens’s most famous book: A Tale of Two Cities.
As we previously mentioned, this book is a masterpiece and is considered one of the best-sellers worldwide.
This 45-chapter novel was published in 31 weekly installments in All the Year Round, where Charles was working at the time.
From April 1859 to November of the same year, the novel was also republished in another format by the author himself as eight monthly sections.
But how do you know if a book is good? Well, you have to read it. However, if you haven’t done it yet, here we can give you the plot to get you excited.
The novel was published in 1859 and is set in London and Paris.
Considered a historical novel, it focused on the story of the French Doctor Manette and his 18-year-old imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris when he was later released and started living in London with his daughter, Lucie.
He doesn’t remember her or has any memories about previous experiences or adventures with her.
The entire overview of the story focuses on the conditions leading to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, which is why we travel along with the characters in A Tale of Two Cities through different years.
We start in 1775 and move to 1780, 1789, and so on while going through all the experiences of the characters involved.
We don’t want to go over the entire novel’s plot and story because we aren’t into spoilers but rather encourage you to read the book if you haven’t.
We promise it won’t be a waste of time, but you’ll instead love it as much as us (if not more).
Just keep in mind the A Tale of Two Cities is the first book of a trilogy.
Did A Tale of Two Cities Make Charles Wealthy?
With a successful book, you would expect the author to be overflowing with money.
Well, this isn’t wrong unless we’re transported to the 1800s.
During that time, writers and authors had severe problems getting paid for what their novels were worth, and you can find many of them being unpaid for their job.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the case for Charles Dickens.
Many believe he was paid by the word when it came to A Tale of Two Cities. After all, the novel was published in serial form over the months rather than having a book sold.
However, he was paid a salary in the All the Year Round. But shouldn’t he had been paid according to the novel at the time?
There aren’t reports of how much he got paid for the book or novel itself (unfortunately).
But reportedly, Charles had $350k income per year while working as a writer and editor.
Now, he is known for dying wealthy due to the copyright battled of his novel in the USA, which he clearly complained about and went to battle in the court.
How much did he earn after winning the battle? We’re not sure or cannot provide you information that is genuinely reliable and certain about this.
However, the novel has sold over 200 million copies to this date and is considered one of the best-sellers novels in history.
Beyond Letters & Paper
Successful books lead to movies, films, musicals, or other versions of the story when people try their best to adapt to new formats.
This wasn’t different for A Tale of Two Cities since there’s a total of 11 films inspired by the book.
The most recent is the film from 1989 that has the same name as the novel, which runs for 3 hours and 18 minutes.
All of the movies and films inspired by it followed the original version’s name and came up in the 1900s.
The only exception for its name is “The Only Way,” which came out in 1926.
Overall, they weren’t bad but not the best.
The latest version was quite popular among people during its release but wasn’t a “boom” for the world.
The main problem when adapting Charles’ masterpiece lies in the information and storyline. How many years and incidents are involved, and the development of the characters.
In other words, it is a real challenge to focus on an adaptation that can bring justice to the novel.
Fascinating Facts About A Tale of Two Cities (Now & Then)
- The opening and closing lines of the novel are part of the most famous ever written.
- Water is used as a symbol of chaos and the unconscious in the book.
- The book focuses on social justice.
- Charles included elements of himself (personality) in some characters.
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