Charles Dickens Liked to Watch Corpses
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What We Know Him For:
Charles Dickens gave us classics like Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and the phrase "What the Dickens?" (even if Shakespeare said it first). In his most famous stories, the world is ultimately a fair place where all good men are eventually rewarded, and where ghosts are magical beings who spend their time teaching valuable life lessons to old, miserable ducks.
OK, so we've only seen the Disney version.
But In Real Life ...
Aside from advocating love for our fellow man, Chuck enjoyed something else: staring at corpses. Yep, the venerable Charles Dickens was very much into visiting the Paris public morgue and looking at dead bodies for the sheer hell of it. And he wouldn't just see a body, get his rocks off then leave -- no, he had to stare at it and contemplate all the little aspects that went into the vacant expression of a deceased person.
He didn't do this to ruminate about the existence of the human soul, or to lament the tragic passing of another victim of society's injustices: he just liked looking at dead folk, in the same way that other people like looking at trains or exotic dancers. We can't even say he was researching some book, because he never really touched the subject in his fiction; his work was all about living life.
"If I had to describe my life's work in one word it'd be 'YOLO.'"
In reality, not even Dickens knew what this morbid obsession was about. "I am dragged by an invisible force into the Morgue," he once wrote, possibly sporting a major boner. One time he forced his friend Maclise to come with him to the morgue and then called him a pussy when the corpses made him upset (but with fancier words). Another time he witnessed an execution by guillotine in Rome and stuck around to examine the body, describing the "apparent annihilation of the neck." We'd have to check, but we're reasonably sure that this sentence doesn't appear anywhere in A Christmas Carol.
Speaking of which, his addiction to death was such that he even went to the morgue on Christmas day. Think about it: That's how Charles Dickens spent his holidays, gawking at rotting corpses.
"To-day? Why, it's Christmas day."
"Excellent! A new batch of suicides!"
For more very different images we have of famous people, check out 8 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Geeks and 11 Celebrities Who Were Secretly Total Badasses.
Related Reading: While Kurt Vonnegut probably couldn't take Kilgore Trout in a fist-fight, some authors are actually much more badass than their creations. Ian Mallory would've cut King Arthur's throat. We wouldn't want to put Mallory up against Hans Fallada though- he wrote three books mocking the Nazis while locked in a Nazi prison. And did you know Lewis Carroll loved naked pictures of little girls? He did. And Alice in Wonderland will never look the same again.