Dickens turns 200---8 things you didn't know about him

Dickens turns 200 today, see original letters, manuscripts and illustrations at the Morgan Library and Museum's exhibit "Charles Dickens at 200"

Dickens turns 200 today, see original letters, manuscripts and illustrations at the Morgan Library and Museum's exhibit "Charles Dickens at 200" Photograph: Jeremiah Gurney

Happy birthday, Boz! That's the first thing you probably didn't know about Charles Dickens, the 19th-century English author and bane of 11th-grade English classes everywhere. He occasionally used that amusing moniker as a pen name. (Variations we're currently using in the office include Bozzer, Bozwell and Bozboz.) For less amusing—and more shocking—revelations, we turned to the curator of the Morgan Library & Museum's current exhibition "Charles Dickens at 200," Declan Kiely, and Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin. Your seven next dinner party conversation-starters should be:

  • Writing was his backup career
  • He had a thing for prostitutes
  • He dabbled in kooky science
  • He was accused of anti-Semitism
  • He ditched his wife
  • He was frenemies with William Thackeray
  • He risked his life for his work

Get the gossip in our exhibition preview, and if that doesn't sate your appetite for the Bozster, check out Dickens's personal copy of David Copperfield at the NYPL's exhibit "Celebrating 100 Years."

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