The Penguin Dickens Companion by Paul Davis
A comprehensive reference book on the life and works of Charles Dickens. It includes entries on his novels, essays, sketches, poems and plays; the characters he created; his own life, family members, friends, places of work, residence & travel; contemporary novelists, journalists, publishers & actors; social themes of the day (the corn laws, poor law, chartism for example); and literary themes. Each novel has a synopsis and further reading recommendations. There are also articles on Dickens' encounter with Hans Christian Anderson and the mutual admiration felt between him and Dostoyevsky.