By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Starting now is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles John Huffam Dickens, whose Victorian works have continued to live though generations.

Originally published as serials in monthly installments, library shelves remain full of his books. “A Tale of Two Cities,” “David Copperfield,” “Oliver Twist,” and “Great Expectations” are among his most frequently read books. Dickens heightened their popularity by his hundreds of public readings.

The reading of “A Christmas Carol,” published on December 19, 1843, inspired by aspects of Dickens’ childhood is a family tradition for people world-over–the story of a mean, stingy man, Scrooge, whose life changes by the end of the tale. Scrooge has gained a place in Webster’s dictionary!

Visit the Free Library of Philadelphia’s rare book department, where the largest collection of Dickens’ works outside of London resides including Dickens’ desk, and watch for an international year of writing, film and theater through 2012.

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