G. K. Chesterton’s 1906 biography of Dickens contributed to a revival in the appreciation of Dickens’s works. He prophesied (rightly so it seems) that amongst his contemporaries, Dickens would become the dominant figure of nineteenth-century literature. Movement was slow, and up until the 1920s and 30s, many literati thought Dickens’s works ‘vulgar’ and sentimental. And then the advocates arrived. George Bernard Shaw praised Dickens as ‘one of the greatest writers of all time’; the American critic Edmund Wilson called Dickens ‘a great artist and social critic’; and George Orwell commended Dickens on his unparalleled ability to set a scene visually, as well as describing him as a ‘rebel’ and ‘a national institution’. New and positive re-evaluations followed. Orwell’s essay is on display.
[Page 8 and 9 from George Orwell's Critical Essays.]