Britain marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of celebrated novelist Charles Dickens on Tuesday.
Although the works of some authors might seem dated after the passage of so much time, Dickens remains as relevant and engaging as ever through such characters as Oliver Twist and Scrooge, who still manage to speak through the ages to a new generation fed up with social injustice and burdened by financial troubles.
Dickens' creations have penetrated the English language and character and there are interesting parallels with our own times. For example, Little Dorrit revolves around speculation and financial chaos, which should resonated with readers today living through the Great Recession.
Or as Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities began:
It was the best of times / it was the worst of times / it was the age of wisdom / it was the age of foolishness / it was the epoch of belief / it was the epoch of incredulity / it was the season of Light / it was the season of Darkness / it was the spring of hope / it was the winter of despair / we had everything before us / we had nothing before us.
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Dickens was one of the first to depict the industrialized city - a place that millions of us still live. He wrote about life in the modern city with its criminals, urchins, lawyers, bankers, clerks, and dreamers.
The novelist grew up poor and, though he gained wealth and fame in his mid-20s, poverty and fear permeate his writing.
In honor of Dickens' birthday, Prince Charles laid a wreath at his grave in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abby. Actor Ralph Fiennes read some passages from Bleak House, considered to be one of Dickens finest works, about the rich Lady Dedlock and an orphan named Esther Summerson.
There were also prayers for the poor and marginalized, and for writers, artists, and journalists chronicling modern society.
Dickens had requested to be buried at Rochester Cathedral in his beloved Kent in southeast England, but a public outcry led to him being placed in Westminster Abby.
A similar service commemorating his birthday took place in his birthplace Portsmouth, where a prepared message from Prince Charles called Dickens one of the greatest writers of the English language, who used his creative genius to campaign passionately for social justice.
The word Dickensian instantly conjures up a vivid picture of Victorian life with all its contrasts and intrigue, and his characterization is as fresh today as it was on the day it was written.
In honor of the special occasion, here's a photo tour of Charles Dickens' London as he knew it. Press Start to begin the journey.