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Great Expectations

The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens

Robert Gottlieb

Picador

THE STRANGE AND VARIED LIVES OF THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD'S MOST BELOVED NOVELIST

Charles Dickens, famous for the indelible child characters he created—from Little Nell to Oliver Twist and David Copperfield—was also the father of ten children (and a possible eleventh). Who those children were and what happened to them is the fascinating subject of Robert Gottlieb’s Great Expectations.

With sympathy and understanding, Gottlieb narrates the highly various and surprising stories of each of Dickens’s sons and daughters, from Katey, who became a successful portraitist, to Frank, who died in Moline, Illinois, after serving a grim stretch in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and from Sydney, who joined the Royal Navy and was banned from Gad’s Hill for his ruinous behavior, and died at sea at the age of twenty-five, to Henry (“Sir Henry”), a prominent jurist and paterfamilias who lived to be eighty-four.

Each of these lives is fascinating on its own. Together they comprise a unique window into Victorian England as well as a moving and disturbing study of Dickens as a father and a man.

REVIEWS

Praise for Great Expectations

“[An] easygoing, elegant, and surprisingly fascinating book.”—The Washington Post

“Ingenious...It throws light not only on the novelist himself, but also on the range of influence parents and home life can have on offspring.”—Colm Tóibín, The New York Review of Book

“An irresistibly readable new book.”—Salon

“An accessible, sharply focused, and opinionated portrait of what the ‘magical’ but dominating father wrought at home...[Gottlieb] brings an enticingly light touch to his scholarship, resulting in a book that reads like haute literary gossip.”—NPR

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Robert Gottlieb

  • Robert Gottlieb has been the editor in chief of Alfred A. Knopf and The New Yorker. He is the author of Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhard, George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker, and Lives and Letters (FSG, 2011), and is the dance critic for The New York Observer.

  • Robert Gottlieb © Michael Lionstar
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Available Formats and Book Details

Great Expectations

The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens

Robert Gottlieb

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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