This page includes 50 of the most famous Charles Dickens quotes from his novels. Many have argued that Charles Dickens is the great English novelist and numerous critics regard Bleak House as the great English novel, but there are so many great Dickens novels.

Imagine that Shakespeare had never lived.  Without Shakespeare the debate about who the greatest English writer is would be a very lively one. And if we broadened it to the greatest writer in the English language we would be bringing in the great American writers too – giants as Dickens Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, John Milton, and quite a few others would be in the frame.

Whatever the correct verdict is, if such a thing can ever be arrived at, there is no doubt that Dickens was a most wonderful writer. Here are 50 of the best Charles Dickens quotes taken from his novels:

  1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

    A Tale of Two Cities

  2. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.

    A Tale of Two Cities

  3. What a fine thing capital punishment is! Dead men never repent; dead men never bring awkward stories to light. The prospect of the gallows, too, makes them hardy and bold. Ah, it’s a fine thing for the trade! Five of them strung up in a row, and none left to play booty or turn white-livered!

    Oliver Twist

  4. To do a great right, you may do a little wrong; and you may take any means which the end to be attained will justify.

    Oliver Twist

  5. There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last!

    A Christmas Carol

  6. Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered—flushed, but smiling proudly—with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

    A Christmas Carol

  7. “Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?”

    Great Expectations

  8. We produced a bundle of pens, a copious supply of ink, and a goodly show of writing and blotting paper. For there was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationary.

    Great Expectations

  9. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more.

    A Tale of Two Cities

  10. A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.

    A Tale of Two Cities

  11. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.

    A Tale of Two Cities

  12. There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

    Oliver Twist

  13. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.

    Great Expectations

  14. We need never be ashamed of our tears.

    Great Expectations

  15. The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.

    Nicholas Nickleby

  16. Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!

    Great Expectations

  17. Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

    A Christmas Carol

  18. Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.’

    Hard Times

  19. I know enough of the world now, to have almost lost the capacity of being much surprised by anything.

    David Copperfield

  20. I found Uriah reading a great fat book, with such demonstrative attention, that his lank forefinger followed up every line as he read, and made clammy tracks along the page (or so I fully believed) like a snail.

    David Copperfield

  21. Don’t you think that any secret course is an unworthy one?

    David Copperfield

  22. Barkis is willin’.

    David Copperfield

  23. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

    David Copperfield

  24. It was as true… as turnips is. It was as true… as taxes is. And nothing’s truer than them.

    David Copperfield

  25. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

    David Copperfield

  26. Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families.

    David Copperfield

  27. Skewered through and through with office-pens, and bound hand and foot with red tape.

    David Copperfield

  28. The last trumpet ever to be sounded shall blow even algebra to wreck.

    Hard Times

  29. It is said that every life has its roses and thorns; there seemed, however, to have been a misadventure or mistake in Stephen’s case, whereby somebody else had become possessed of his roses, and he had become possessed of the same somebody else’s thorns in addition to his own.

    Hard Times

  30. Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!

    Hard Times

  31. Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!

    The Pickwick Papers

  32. When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.

    The Pickwick Papers

  33. Poetry makes life what light and music do the stage.

    The Pickwick Papers

  34. There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.

    The Pickwick Papers

  35. Lawyers hold that there are two kinds of particularly bad witnesses–a reluctant witness, and a too-willing witness.

    The Pickwick Papers

  36. He was bolder in the daylight – most men are.

    The Pickwick Papers

  37. The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy. The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if it lacked the courage to rise, and the rain came slowly and doggedly down, as if it had not even the spirit to pour.

    The Pickwick Papers

  38. It is an old prerogative of kings to govern everything but their passions.

    The Pickwick Papers

  39. “Drink with me, my dear,” said Mr. Weller. “Put your lips to this here tumbler, and then I can kiss you by deputy.”

    The Pickwick Papers

  40. We know, Mr. Weller – we, who are men of the world – that a good uniform must work its way with the women, sooner or later.

    The Pickwick Papers

  41. Dumb as a drum vith a hole in it, sir.

    The Pickwick Papers

  42. I saw that Mr. and Mrs. Pocket’s children were not growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.

    Great Expectations

  43. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.

    Great Expectations

  44.  I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.

    Great Expectations

  45. It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home.

    Great Expectations

  46. I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born, in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuadinig arguments of my best friends.

    Great Expectations

  47.  “Drat that boy,” interposed my sister, frowning atme over her work, “what a questioner he is. Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies. “

    Great Expectations

  48. Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.

    Great Expectations

  49. Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself.

    Great Expectations

  50. There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.

    Oliver Twist

And that’s your lot for Charles Dickens quotes, though if you’re after more info we do have a great biography of Charles Dickens here. What do you think of the quotes – any we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below!

Charles Dickens quote - it is a far, far better thing thart I do, on sunset purple background


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