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  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781787330702
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $49.99

The Turning Point

A Year that Changed Dickens and the World

A major new biography of Charles Dickens, by the award-winning author of Becoming Dickens and The Story of Alice

A major new biography of Charles Dickens, tracing the year that would transform his life and times


'It is hard to imagine a better book on Dickens' NEW STATESMAN

The year is 1851. It's a time of radical change in Britain, when industrial miracles and artistic innovations rub shoulders with political unrest, poverty and disease. It's also a turbulent time in the private life of Charles Dickens, as he copes with a double bereavement and early signs that his marriage is falling apart. But this formative year will become perhaps the greatest turning point in Dickens's career, as he embraces his calling as a chronicler of ordinary people's lives, and develops a new form of writing that will reveal just how interconnected the world is becoming.

The Turning Point transports us into the foggy streets of Dickens's London, closely following the twists and turns of a year that would come to define him, and forever alter Britain's relationship with the world. Fully illustrated, and brimming with fascinating details about the larger-than-life man who wrote Bleak House, this is the closest look yet at one of the greatest literary personalities ever to have lived.
'A startling and exciting writer' A. S. BYATT, SPECTATOR

  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781787330702
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $49.99

About the author

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Magdalen College. His most recent book, Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist, won the Duff Cooper Prize.

Also by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

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Praise for The Turning Point

This immersive biography, by the author of the Costa-shortlisted The Story of Alice, had me hooked... published in a sumptuous package, with illustrations throughout.

The Bookseller, Editor's Choice

This tremendous book dazzles and delights... it's full of discoveries. A glorious book; revealing and unravelling Charles Dickens before our very eyes, melding his life and his work, using scholarship, wit and passion - a triumph.

Miriam Margolyes

Clever and witty, packed with fiercely academic research and erudite analysis, but written in featherlight, elegant prose.

Natalie Haynes

The Turning Point...builds incrementally towards Bleak House...[and] makes for a very satisfying finale. A manuscript page of the novel, dense with crossings-out of emendations, is reproduced as evidence of Dickens's painstaking process of creation. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst has taken pains of his own and this wonderfully entertaining book is the result.

Anthony Quinn, Observer

Douglas-Fairhurst is a shrewd, amusing and original guide... [he] gives you fascinating facts... [and] a brisk and brilliant analysis of Bleak House.

Laura Freeman, The Times

[The Turning Point] hums with the intellectual life of the day.

Rose Shepherd, Saga Magazine

Taking his cue from that novel [Bleak House], Douglas-Fairhurst uses a fascinating range of interconnected sources, side-plots and telling details to dramatise the complex social and imaginative web out of which it came...He gives us history not as grand narrative or teleology but as total immersion and multiplicity. As such, Douglas-Fairhurst invites us to feel what it felt like to be Dickens in 1851.

Lucasta Miller, Financial Times

A fascinating biography that ultimately brings fresh insight to the life of Charles Dickens and his work as a novelist.

Tom Williams, Spectator

Sparklingly informative


A startling and exciting writer.


In a year of striking biographies, the most striking of all - due to its erudition, empathy and freshness of approach - is Douglas-Fairhurst's Becoming Dickens.


It is hard to imagine a better book on Dickens.


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