The Dickens Boy by Tom Keneally

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Penguin. Hachette UK 3. A Breakaway by Tom Roberts – SQGXLB9u083M_Q at Google Cultural Institute [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. Dickens by William Warby [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia
The storytelling of Tom Keneally is always a pleasure.

Tom Keneally has created a fictional account of two years in the life of Edward Dickens, Charles Dickens’ tenth child who came to live in Australia at the age of 16 to work on a sheep station in New South Wales.

“The winter in that desert was sharp. You might wake and find the entire ground, the dust itself, and every plant, covered in frost. A freezing wind blew from the north-west, encouraging sheep to grow more insulating wool and us to apply extra layers of our clothing. It was normal to go abroad in the morning and hear drovers say, ‘I wore everything I own to stay warm last night.'”

“The dining room glittered that evening, a tribute to the British gift for remaking Britain on any margin of the earth.”

~Quotes from “The Dickens Boy” by Tom Keneally
  • Arts Review: “In his most familiar terrain, Tom Keneally takes historical figures and events and reimagines them with verve, compassion and humour to give us his latest novel, The Dickens Boy.”
  • The Canberra Times: “Keneally’s The Dickens Boy is wonderfully complex, and, like Dickens’s works, deserves reading and rereading. We are lucky to have Keneally continuing to write novels which capture so much of our past in a complex and eminently readable way.”

Historical note: Charles Dickens had ten children, his youngest being Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens (otherwise known as Plorn). At the age of 16, he emigrated to Australia to work at Momba, a sheep station in New South Wales. Several of Charles Dickens’ other sons also moved away from England: Walter Dickens to India; Francis Dickens first to India, then Canada; and Alfred Dickens to Australia.

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