Famous People's Cause of Death Charles Dickens

About the famous English author Charles Dickens, biography, history and cause of death.



Born: Feb. 7, 1812

Died: June 9, 1870

Cause of Death: Paralytic stroke

Physician's Notes: Perhaps the most popular novelist of all time--the creator of such memorable characters as Little Nell, Pip, and David Copperfield--Dickens literally worked himself to death. As a child he was sickly and subject to inexplicable attacks of "spasms" and fever. In 1864, at the age of 52, he developed gout in his left foot, which plagued him until his death. One of the most significant events which led to Dickens's death occurred on June 9, 1865, when he was a passenger on a train which derailed at Staplehurst in Kent, England. It was a major railway disaster in which 10 people were killed. Although he escaped serious injury and managed heroically to extricate the dead and dying from the wreckage, he never recovered from the nervous shock to his system. In 1866, still suffering from the effects of the train crash and under the constant grind of his enormously popular "readings," he developed severe pains in his left eye, stomach, and chest. Not only refusing to quit but actually stepping up his performances, he slowly committed suicide--his overtaxed body finally couldn't shake even a mild cold. He developed heart trouble in the late 1860s, and the excitement he experienced during his performances made his blood pressure soar until his face would flush red, then go white. In December, 1868, he couldn't read the left side of shopfront signs, a forewarning of paralysis, but he continued working exhaustingly until he had a breakdown in the spring of 1869. A year later, while having dinner, his face flushed and he suddenly stood up, stating that he had to leave for London immediately; then he pitched forward. He was unconscious all night and died the following day--exactly five years after the train crash. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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