Dickens is among the most popular writers in the history of the English language, both for the extent of his readership and the impact he had upon it. An estimated one in 10 literate Britons read his work (during his time) and many more heard his words read aloud. He gave voice to the plight of the poor.
But his central themes of alienation and betrayal were universal in their appeal to his readership, with which he maintained near constant contact, as his schedule of public readings and theatrical performances would attest.
He was obsessed with work. His literary output was prolific. He wrote well over 30 novels, which attracted all sectors of society, namely on a chapter by chapter basis through Pickwick Papers.
His book the Old Curiosity Shop wrought emotional pain to his readers of a now unimaginable scope. The death of his character Little Nell, thought to be based upon his own younger sister who met an untimely death, brought about not just tears but the rising of never before experienced anguish, so attached to Dickens character were his readers. There is no contemporary equivalent to Dickens, a super-star before super-stars, one with influence and emotional depth and breadth to encompass the whole spectrum of human emotions and one which stuck deep in the Victorian soul.