The most famous of English serial novelists, Dickens burst onto the scene with 1836's The Pickwick Papers and has maintained his popularity since, with none of his major novels ever having been out of print.
His The Old Curiosity Shop epitomizes the popularity and power of the serial format; reportedly, readers in New York thronged the docks to meet the ships carrying news of Little Nell's fate from England to America. Dickens' public readings from his own novels and stories were also very popular.
Dickens is best remembered for his distinctive and often grotesque characters; Ebeneezer Scrooge, Fagin, Miss Havisham and many more. His novels also addressed social problems of his day, especially the treatment of the poorest members of society in slums, workhouses, and debtor's prisons.