CHARLES DICKENS'S immense popularity when his novels first appeared in weekly and monthly parts, and his continuing popularity today is due, above all, to his skill in creating memorable characters whose fortunes the reader compulsively follows. His characters show their creator's remarkable powers of observation, particularly in small details, so that the reader constantly stops to think, ‘How true to life!’ or ‘How like old so‐and‐so!’ Many of them were based on real people—his father (Mr Micawber), his mother (Mrs Nickleby), himself (David Copperfield), but they are so transmuted that the originals did not recognize themselves. In Bleak House he had to modify his sketch of Harold Skimpole, who was too recognizably Leigh Hunt.
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