Sketches by Boz

Sketches by Boz


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Charles Dickens's first book, complete with all the pathos and comic invention of his later masterpieces

Published under the pen-name 'Boz', Charles Dickens's first book Sketches by Boz (1836) heralded an exciting new voice in English literature. This richly varied collection of observation, fancy and fiction shows the London he knew so intimately at its best and worst - its streets, theatres, inns, pawnshops, law courts, prisons, omnibuses and the river Thames - in honest and visionary descriptions of everyday life and people. Through pen portraits that often anticipate characters from his great novels, we see the condemned man in his prison cell, garrulous matrons, vulgar young clerks and Scrooge-like bachelors, while Dickens's powers for social critique are never far from the surface, in unflinching depictions of the vast metropolis's forgotten citizens, from child workers to prostitutes. A startling mixture of humour and pathos, these Sketches reveal London as wonderful terrain for an extraordinary young writer. In his introduction, Dennis Walder discusses Dickens's social commentary, his view of London and his imaginative mixing of genres, and places the Sketches in the tradition of eighteenth and nineteenth-century reportage. This edition also includes the original illustrations by George Cruickshank, a chronology, further reading, appendices and notes. 

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140433456
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1996
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 336,102
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 1350L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.

Date of Birth:

February 7, 1812

Date of Death:

June 18, 1870

Place of Birth:

Portsmouth, England

Place of Death:

Gad's Hill, Kent, England


Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Table of Contents

  • Our parish
    • The Beadle. The Parish Engine. The Schoolmaster.
    • The Curate. The Old Lady. The Half-pay Captain
    • The Four Sisters
    • The Election for Beadle
    • The Broker's Man
    • The Ladies' Societies
    • Our Next-door Neighbour
  • Scenes
    • The Streets – morning
    • The Streets – night
    • Shops and their Tenants
    • Scotland Yard
    • Seven Dials
    • Meditations in Monmouth-Street
    • Hackney-coach Stands
    • Doctors' Commons
    • London Recreations
    • The River
    • Astley's
    • Greenwich Fair
    • Private Theatres
    • Vauxhall Gardens by Day
    • Early Coaches
    • Omnibuses
    • The Last Cab-driver, and the First Omnibus cad
    • A Parliamentary Sketch
    • Public Dinners
    • The First of May
    • Brokers' and Marine-store Shops
    • Gin-shops
    • The Pawnbroker's Shop
    • Criminal Courts
    • A Visit to Newgate
  • Characters
    • Thoughts about People
    • A Christmas Dinner
    • The New Year
    • Miss Evans and the Eagle
    • The Parlour Orator
    • The Hospital Patient
    • The Misplaced attachment of Mr. John Dounce
    • The Mistaken Milliner. A Tale of Ambition
    • The Dancing Academy
    • Shabby-Genteel People
    • Making a Night of It
    • The Prisoners' Van
  • Tales
    • The Boarding-house
      • Chapter the first
      • Chapter the second
    • Mr. Minns and his Cousin
    • Sentiment
    • The Tuggses at Ramsgate
    • Horatio Sparkins
    • The Black Veil
    • The Steam Excursion
    • The Great Winglebury Duel
    • Mrs. Joseph Porter
    • A Passage in the Life of Mr. Watkins Tottle
      • Chapter the first
      • Chapter the second
    • The Bloomsbury Christening
    • The Drunkard's death

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Walter Bagehot once remarked, Dickens wrote about London "like a special correspondent for posterity".

"The first sprightly runnings of his genius are undoubtedly here," wrote Dickens’s friend and biographer John Forster.

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Sketches by Boz 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Smiley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great Dickens. The reader gets Dickens' characters and descriptive power with a minimum of his ripe sentimentality. A win/win. Good place to start for those new to the author or those that say they don't like Dickens. For those familar with the author's body of work the reader will find the germ of future novels in this early work. The last piece, "A Drunkard's Death", is outstanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why do you keep saying sup? I havnt read the book yet an i have no idea what its about. I did read te discription but i wanna hear about the book. I dont care about your siblings although im sure they are wonderful but i just wanna hear bout the book isnt tht what the review section is about? Now, I know tht you dont think this is a review, but it really is... I am reviewing about the reviews. I really look forwar to reading this book. But not because of the reviews but because of the description. Whoever reads this please dont comment on this... i just think its annoying. I guess tht makes me a hypocript right now but i am just saying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HEY!!!What's up big bro? P.S. AND TRY NOT TO BE SO LAZY ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S.LOVE YOU SO MUCH...BYE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sup sis bye &starf