The whimsical charms of Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Artful Dodger, Uriah Heep, and more

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Today marks the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, the greatest novelist of the Victorian era—and possibly some other eras as well. Though Dickens was skilled at creating plot and much loved for his winking sense of humor, perhaps his greatest talent was creating characters, many of whom are still household names a century and a half after their creation.

His biographer, John Forster, wrote that Dickens made his "characters real existences, not by describing them but by letting them describe themselves." Indeed, his characters are extremely rich, and even the most cartoonish of them glow with a certain kind of truth, not to mention some incredible names.

To honor Dickens on his 200th birthday, we've put together a list of what we consider to be the best of the great author's many fantastic figures. See our choices below.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Image credit: Gutenberg Press