WHEN I was acting‚ with my children and friends‚ in Mr. WILKIE COLLINS’S drama of The Frozen Deep‚ I first conceived the main idea of this story. A strong desire was upon me then to embody it in my own person; and I traced out in my fancy the state of mind which it would necessitate the presentation to an observant spectator‚ with particular care and interest.

As the idea became familiar to me‚ it gradually shaped itself into its present form. Throughout its execution‚ it has had complete possession of me; I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages‚ as that I have certainly done and suffered it all myself.

Whenever any reference (however slight) is made here to the condition of the French people before or during the Revolution‚ it is truly made‚ on the faith of trustworthy witnesses. It has been one of my hopes to add something to the popular and picturesque means of understanding that terrible time‚ though no one can hope to add anything to the philosophy of Mr. CARLYLE’S wonderful book.

Charles Dickens

Tavistock House‚ London‚

November‚ 1859.


  1. Initially a financial government crisis, the French Revolution between 1789 and 1799 soon led to a violent uprising among the country's citizens. The uprising, known as the Reign of Terror, was extremely violent and resulted in the guillotine deaths of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. Following the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte became the ruler of France.

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  2. Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) was a Scottish writer known for his 1837 book on the French Revolution.

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