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Charles Dickens

Where did Dickens work at the age of twelve?

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February 06, 2009 3:24AM

Dickens was sent to work at Warren's Blacking Factory (they made shoe polish) when he was 12; he applied labels to jars of blacking. Critics differ on how long he was there: anything from four months to eight months. To Dickens, it was an eternity. He was humiliated and hurt, feeling rejected by his parents and outshone by his siblings who were able to go to school (and win prestigious awards), while he badly wanted to continue his education. To compound his humiliation, the labeling process was soon moved to a large window looking out onto the street, where the young Charles was visible to passers-by. His father (having been released from debtors prison) saw him in the window one day and immediately took him out of Warren's for good. His mother wanted Charles to continue working at Warren's but his father, understanding a little of Charles's feelings, insisted he return to school. Dickens was for ever after resentful and angry with his mother for wanting to send him back.