This novel is a coming of age story which reflects some of the early experiences of the author. David Copperfield spends his happy first years with his young widowed mother and faithful housekeeper Peggoty. When his mother marries the cruel Mr. Murdstone and his sister comes to live with them, David is beaten and mistreated. At first he is sent to a poorly run boarding school where he forms two important friendships, but after his mother dies, David is put to work at a factory in London. The ten year old orphan lodges with the Micawber family and becomes more shabby and dispirited every day. Eventually he runs away to find his great-aunt and starts a new life in Canterbury.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
This was our first look at Charles Dickens – one the first celebrity authors – who was recognized on the street and went on book reading tours. Each episode of his serialized stories was eagerly awaited by the Victorian public. While some of the Armchair Critics loved the action packed plot, others found the dense language and sheer length of the book daunting. It was apparent that the magazines Dickens wrote for paid by the word! The durability of his characters is amazing – over 150 years later we still recognize Uriah Heep in an obsequious sycophant or Wilkins Micawber in a deluded spendthrift. The twists of the plot and amazing coincidences are Victorian melodrama at its best.