Charles Dickens, perhaps the best British novelist of the Victorian era, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on February 7, 1812. His happy early childhood was interrupted when his father was sent to debtors' prison, and young Dickens had to go to work in a factory at age twelve. Later, he took jobs as an office boy and journalist before publishing essays and stories in the 1830s. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, made him a famous and popular author at the age of twenty-five. Subsequent works were published serially in periodicals and cemented his reputation as a master of colorful characterization, and as a harsh critic of social evils and corrupt institutions. His many books include Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens married Catherine Hogarth in 1836, and the couple had nine children before separating in 1858 when he began a long affair with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. Despite the scandal, Dickens remained a public figure, appearing often to read his fiction. He died in 1870, leaving his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished.
Christopher Paolini was born in Southern California on November 17, 1983, but grew up primarily in Paradise Valley, Montana. He was home schooled and at the age of 15, graduated from high school through an accredited correspondence course at American School in Chicago, Illinois. He decided to write a book and after three years of writing and editing, Eragon was self-published in 2001. The Paolini family spent the following year promoting the book themselves by giving presentations to the local library and high school and then eventually branching out to libraries, bookstores, and schools across the United States. After his step-son read a copy of the book, author Carl Hiaasen brought Eragon to the attention of publisher Alfred A. Knopf, who acquired the rights to publish Eragon and the rest of the Inheritance Cycle in 2003. The other books in the cycle include Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. Eragon was made into a movie in December 2006.