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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter questions the view that Dickens took little interest in history and remained ignorant of the challenge of writing about the past. Following John Forster’s dismissal of A Child’s History of England as that little book’, which ‘cannot be said to have quite hit the mark’, A Child’s History, Barnaby Rudge, and A Tale of Two Cities have received often unsympathetic treatment, particularly with respect to the way the past is used in his two historical novels. Read within the context of ideas about history advocated by Carlyle and Macaulay in the 1830s, this chapter contends that fresh light can be shed on Dickens’s awareness of historiography and on his familiarity with an invigorated approach to the discipline advocated by the two most prominent historians of the first half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: history, change, the past, historiography, Carlyle, Macaulay, Barnaby Rudge, A Tale of Two Cities, A Child’s History of England, historical novel

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