Charles Dickens is one of the most well known and influential authors to have ever lived. Even if you’ve never read his books, I’m sure you’re familiar with his timeless characters from stories like A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist. But do you know some the most famous Charles Dickens quotes?
Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth, England, and he went on to become the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era.
He wrote 15 novels, and countless essays, short stories, articles and novellas. He became a literary celebrity during his lifetime, and even today, 150 years after his death, his words are enjoyed by adults and children worldwide.
I’ve compiled a list of my 45 favorite Charles Dickens quotes, found from his novels and other works, that remind us why he’s still such a well-loved author today.
Best Charles Dickens Quotes
“To do a great right, you may do a little wrong; and you may take any means which the end to be attained will justify.”Oliver Twist
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”A Tale of Two Cities
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”A Tale of Two Cities
“Drink with me, my dear,” said Mr. Weller. “Put your lips to this here tumbler, and then I can kiss you by deputy.”The Pickwick Papers
“Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.”A Christmas Carol
“Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?”Great Expectations
“The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy. The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if it lacked the courage to rise, and the rain came slowly and doggedly down, as if it had not even the spirit to pour.”The Pickwick Papers
“I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more.”A Tale of Two Cities
“I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.”A Tale of Two Cities
“Poetry makes life what light and music do the stage.The Pickwick Papers
“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”Great Expectations
“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”Great Expectations
“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.”A Tale of Two Cities
“We need never be ashamed of our tears.”Great Expectations
“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”Oliver Twist
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”Nicholas Nickleby
“We know, Mr. Weller – we, who are men of the world – that a good uniform must work its way with the women, sooner or later.”The Pickwick Papers
“Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”Great Expectations
“Love, though said to be afflicted with blindness, is a vigilant watchman.”Our Mutual Friend
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.Hard Times
“Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”A Christmas Carol
“Don’t you think that any secret course is an unworthy one?”David Copperfield
“Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself.”Great Expectations
“Lawyers hold that there are two kinds of particularly bad witnesses–a reluctant witness, and a too-willing witness.”The Pickwick Papers
“I know enough of the world now, to have almost lost the capacity of being much surprised by anything.”David Copperfield
“There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.”The Pickwick Papers
“We produced a bundle of pens, a copious supply of ink, and a goodly show of writing and blotting paper. For there was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationary.”Great Expectations
“I found Uriah reading a great fat book, with such demonstrative attention, that his lank forefinger followed up every line as he read, and made clammy tracks along the page (or so I fully believed) like a snail.”David Copperfield
“It is said that every life has its roses and thorns; there seemed, however, to have been a misadventure or mistake in Stephen’s case, whereby somebody else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed of the same somebody else’s thorns in addition to his own.”Hard Times
“It was as true… as turnips is. It was as true… as taxes is. And nothing’s truer than them.”David Copperfield
“He was bolder in the daylight – most men are.”The Pickwick Papers
“And here you see me working out, as cheerfully and thankfully as I may, my doom of sharing in the glass a constant change of customers, and of lying down and rising up with the skeleton allotted to me for my mortal companion.”The Haunted House
“Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families.”David Copperfield
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”David Copperfield
“I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.”Great Expectations
“When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.”The Pickwick Papers
“Skewered through and through with office-pens, and bound hand and foot with red tape.”David Copperfield
“The last trumpet ever to be sounded shall blow even algebra to wreck.”Hard Times
“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”Hard Times
”It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home.”
“I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born, in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends.”Great Expectations
“It is an old prerogative of kings to govern everything but their passions.”The Pickwick Papers
“I saw that Mr. and Mrs. Pocket’s children were not growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.”Great Expectations
“Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.”Great Expectations
”Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!The Pickwick Papers
I hope you enjoyed these Charles Dickens quotes. While some of them seem a little old fashioned, I find it interesting how many of them still resonate in the world we live in today.
Many people don’t know that Charles Dickens wasn’t born into wealth or status. His family was poor, and they struggled throughout his childhood. As a young boy, Dickens worked in a factory to help make ends meet and he only managed to go to school for 2 years.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, he became a huge success. After he became well known, he spent a lot of his time helping the poor, both through his writing and his philanthropy.
I love these kinds of rags to riches tales that prove that anything is possible through grit and determination.
Which are your favorite Charles Dickens quotes? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!