This is how Claire Tomalin closes her Dickens biography: ‘He left a trail like a meteor, and everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens’, followed by a long list of types. I consider Dickens the surrealist, or thesentimentalist, but then I pick Dickens the tireless walker. And I concede, with Tomalin, that regarding his life and work, ‘a great many questions hang in the air, unanswered and mostly unanswerable’.
Claire Tomalin: Dickens; and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst: Becoming Dickens
Dickens: A Life
by Claire Tomalin
Viking, $39.95 hb, 574 pp, 9780670917679
Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist
by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Harvard University Press (Inbooks), $39.95 hb, 389 pp, 9780674050037
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Evelyn Juers is co-founder of HEAT magazine and Giramondo Publishing. She has a PhD from the University of Essex (UK) on the Brontës and the practice of biography. As an essayist, and an art and literary critic, she has contributed to a wide range of Australian and international publications. In 2009 her collective biography House of Exile won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for non-fiction. Her essay ‘Corner of King and Queen: Sketches for the Portrait of a Recluse’ was shortlisted for the Calibre Prize, and went on to become a book, The Recluse (2011).
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