December 19, 1977 12:00 PM

by Wolf Mankowitz

Unlike many gifted artists, Charles Dickens was famous during his lifetime. A frail and lonesome child, he wandered the ramshackle byways and gaslit gin parlors of London’s grimy Camden Town. He later married a vapid woman, fathered 10 children and rose to fame as a reporter and feature writer (using the pseudonym “Boz”). More than a prolific author, he was a master showman and self-promoter. Still, his sympathy for the oppressed earned him the love of his countrymen. Though Mankowitz’ bland style hardly does his fascinating subject justice, Dickens of London is rich nonetheless—with photographs and color illustrations. (Macmillan, $14.95)

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