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Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Claire Tomalin: Dickens 'hated' parliamentary reporting

Today, Charles Dickens's great-great-great grand-daughter, Lucinda Hawksley, will be giving a talk at Westminster on the writer's lesser known career as a parliamentary reporter.

Speaking to the Today programme, Ms Hawksley said: "A lot of the reporting work that he did doesn't have his name on it, so it's very hard to know who wrote all the different accounts.

"But the thing I find fascinating is that his work as a parliamentary reporter comes through in all his novels again and again. It's something that's recycled as it were throughout his works."

Claire Tomalin, who's written a biography of Dickens, said: "I don't think he did it because he was interested in the process of politics, he did it because he was making his way. He was very young, he worked very hard, he learned shorthand, and he was terribly good at it.

"The depressing thing is that he really hated parliament, and everything he says about it is how awful it was - how pompous, vain the MPs were, how foolishly they spoke. He said it was as noisy as Smithfield cattle market."

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