78 pages 2 hours read

Charles Dickens

David Copperfield

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1850

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Prefaces-Chapter 9Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Prefaces to the 1850 Edition and the Charles Dickens Edition

In his original 1850 preface, Dickens explains that he is happy to have finished his novel. He also feels, however, that he is “dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world” (12) with its completion, as he has grown very close to the characters of David Copperfield.


In the Charles Dickens Edition, Dickens concludes that among all the books he has written, David Copperfield is his personal favorite. He compares himself to a parent, claiming David Copperfield is his most beloved child.

Chapter 1 Summary: “I Am Born”

David Copperfield begins his novel by establishing himself as both its author and looking-back narrator. David shares that by the time of his birth, his father had already died. He feels strange about the fact that his father never saw him.


Foreboding signs mark David’s birth. A local woman remarks that spirits will haunt David. He is born with a caul—a cap-like piece of fetal membrane around his head—that his mother auctions off to superstitious locals who believe the caul will protect them from drowning.


Just before David is born, his father’s aunt, Miss Betsey Trotwood, confronts his mother. Miss Betsey informs the overwhelmed young mother-to-be that she plans to adopt her child upon birth. Miss Betsey wants to prevent men from using the baby in the same way men have used both her and David’s mother.

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