"He was born on a Friday, on the same day as his young hero David Copperfield, and for ever afterwards Friday became for him a day of omen. Whether like his young hero he was born just before midnight, when the tide was in, is not recorded; but this strange association between himself and his fictional characters is one that he carried with him always. He said once, during a speech in memory of Shakespeare's birthday, that: 'We meet on this day to celebrate the birthday of a vast army of living men and women who will live for ever with an actuality greater than that of the men and women whose external forms we see around us . . .' He was thinking here of Hamlet and Lear, of Macbeth and Prospero, but is it not also true that in this small front bedroom in Portsmouth, in the presence of a surgeon and a monthly nurse, there was born on this February day Pecksniff and Scrooge, Oliver Twist and Sairey Gamp, Samuel Pickwick and Nicholas Nickleby, Pip and David Copperfield, Miss Havisham and Little Nell, the Artful Dodger and Wackford Squeers, Thomas Gradgrind and Little Dorrit, Sydney Carton and Paul Dombey, Fagin and Edwin Drood, Uriah Heep and Wilkins Micawber, Quilp and Sam Weller, Barnaby Rudge and Bill Sikes, Tiny Tim and Tommy Traddles, all of them tumbling out into the light?"
Peter Ackroyd, Dickens, Chapter One
(Photo copyright Gina Dalfonzo)