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.
Renowned literary genius George Bernard Shaw was born on July 26, 1856 in Dublin, Ireland. He later moved to London and educated himself at the British Museum while several of his novels were published in small socialist magazines. Shaw later became a music critic for the Star and for the World. He was a drama critic for the Saturday Review and later began to have some of his early plays produced. Shaw wrote the plays Man and Superman, Major Barbara, and Pygmalion, which was later adapted as My Fair Lady in both the musical and film form. He also transformed his works into screenplays for Saint Joan, How He Lied to Her Husband, Arms and the Man, Pygmalion, and Major Barbara. Shaw won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925. George Bernard Shaw died on November 2, 1950 at Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, England.