Today we in the UK and readers around the world are celebrating the life and the extraordinary writing talent that was Charles Dickens, as he was born exactly 200 years ago. As the Victorian era’s greatest author, Charles penned great novel after great novel hewn out of the adversity of his childhood years. The gritty realism of Victorian life was portrayed in great detail and his work not only entertains, but is a historical record of the era.
Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812 at 19.50 hrs in Portsmouth, England. He was a Sun sign Aquarian with a Sagittarian Moon and a Virgo Ascendant. Most of the planets on this chart sit below the horizon so I know that Charles would have had a lot of issues in his childhood to deal with, things that would have shaped his adult life considerably. Generally the planets are spread throughout the elements however there is a bit more mutability about this chart than cardinal and fixed signs, so Dickens would have been able to adapt to change which was forced upon him.
The Sun Moon combination shows an independently spirited man who very much needed to have his opinions respected. Aquarius is a social sign and Dickens’ view on Victorian society were chronicled in an honest and forthright way. When Jupiter and Uranus combine in a natal horoscope, there is always the chance for great fortune in one’s life, and Dickens got exactly the break he needed. When his father spent more than the family could afford after their move from Portsmouth to London, they were all imprisoned in Marshalsea debtor’s prison, all except 12 year old Charles who was allowed to stay with a family friend, Elizabeth Roylance. When Charles’ grandmother passed away, she left his father £450 allowing his family to leave the prison to fulfil all the talent that lie within. The money eventually allowed him to go to school to get some education, get a job in a lawyer’s office in Gray’s Inn and through his contacts there, he was able to do freelance reporting for the newspapers in nearby Fleet Street. From here his writing career blossomed.
The first thing that struck me about this chart knowing we are dealing with a writer is the Ascendant/Midheaven combination. Charles had the classic signature of a great one, Virgo ascendant and Gemini Midheaven. Look back in history and you will see this combination with Mercury prominent crops up regularly with people who had this type of ability; Jane Austen, Ernest Hemmingway and Charlotte Bronte all shared this combination, the ability to have a critical acumen & to seek perfection in communication. Of course we also have a mutable grand cross too involving the Ascendant and Midheaven. People with such a cross are very motivated, just because every so often circumstances come along because of transits to the cross that shake up your whole life, either in a good or bad way. Pluto is involved in the cross, so the motivation here was to succeed, to seek power and recognition. Pluto is a double edged sword, and to get to where you want to go, you have to put up with misfortune and tough times, things that test you to the limit and eventually transform you into the person you want to be.
it is known that Dickens had a particularly difficult relationship with his mother, who insisted he stay working at a Warren’s Blacking work warehouse even after the family got their inheritance as a lifeline. Warren’s was a particularly cruel and nasty place when the young Charles had worked 10-12 hours a day in cramped and dirty conditions to help pay off the family debts. With Saturn in Capricorn in the 4th house of home and the Moon being conjunct to Neptune and square to Pluto, we have plenty of tension here impacting on his relationship with his mother indicating that it would not have been an easy one; Saturn in the 4th often shows a cold tough upbringing.
Charles was a voracious reader as well as a writer and Mercury in the 4th is the sign of the bookworm, the diarist and someone who records their experiences for posterity. Mercury in the 4th brings an introspective mind and in Capricorn not only shows ambition to communicate in one’s career but also gives one a clear organised point of view unimpressed by exaggeration and false claims. This Mercury formed a mini grand trine with Uranus in the 3rd and the Virgo Ascendant. Charles would have had a very quick & inventive mind incorporated into his personality, as well as a quirky and sharp sense of humour. This formation also showed a huge critical acumen, perfect for journalism in which he excelled. The Aquarian Sun square to Uranus and trine to the Midheaven is very humanitarian and through his work (Midheaven) and his creative talent (Sun in 5th house), he highlighted inequality and the awful conditions that the working classes of the time had to endure. The Aquarian Sun sympathises and identifies with the underdog and the oppressed.
The Sun in the 5th house loves and adores children, and Charles certainly did, he fathered 10 with his wife Catherine. She would have been a very active and creative influence on his life, with Mars in the 7th house of permanent partners and mystical and inspirational Pisces on the 7th house cusp. This Sun also feeds into the grand cross in his chart via a sextile to the natal 3rd house Moon Neptune conjunction. Moon Neptune is very sensitive and compassionate and Charles expressed his feelings openly through his work. This conjunction was trine to Mars in forthright Aries showing passionate views, and it is safe to sat that even though he was a sensitive soul, Charles Dickens did not mince his words. He would have been outspoken and unafraid to speak the truth as he saw it.
We find Pluto and Venus together in the 6th house in Pisces. Here is an intense passion for the perfect world, and frustration with anything that would prevent this ideal being carried out in the world around you. Victorian London was dirty, corrupt, tough, hard and poverty was rife. This would have tugged at Dickens’ heartstrings and this is one of the reasons that he wrote about all that surrounded him. Pluto connecting to most areas of the chart would have pushed him to be a notable person of the time, and gave him a real work ethic. He would have huge reserves of stamina, and he worked continuously until his death in June 1870.
Charles’ Jupiter sat in the 10th house of career and this is a wonderful position for Jupiter to be, as it brings an ability for your work to touch the lives of many people around the globe. He had the fortune to travel to the United States showing Jupiter’s international connections with his work. It also opposed Saturn showing a balanced approach to life, the realism of working within your means combined with boundless optimism and hope. Jupiter also makes a quindecile to Neptune and the Moon. Dickens’ novels, despite the darker gritty nature of much of the subject matter always had a ray of emotional hope inbuilt within the structure of his novels and essays, the ability to grab victory and enlightenment out of the jaws of despair and defeat. In tough and turbulent times his writing resonated with the public at large, and he became England’s most famous novelist of the era.
As we celebrate his anniversary, I think the words he wrote are just as relevant as they ever were. We too now live in difficult times, and maybe we should reflect on some of the wisdom that Charles Dickens had, as it might do us some good.
“Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some” – Charles Dickens.