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Today is the 200th birthday of literary hero, Charles Dickens. We all know that Dickens wrote about poverty, injustice, crime with great humor (and at great length). But there are quite a few things we don’t know about the author of A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, and many, many other classics. To celebrate, here are a few fun facts.

1. His name “Dickens” was a curse, possibly invented by Shakespeare.

Instead of saying, “What the devil?” as a profanity, people exclaimed, “What the dickens?” The first usage of that word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, was William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. And Shakespeare frequently invented words, just because they weren’t there.

2. He may have saved multiple lives of friends and strangers after a train crash.

According to the New York Times, Dickens was on a train that derailed over a bridge, in the only first-class carriage that didn’t plummet into a river. He not only found the key that freed his friends, he went to the carriages below and gave water and brandy to those who needed it.

Then, in a move that can only be called “bad ass,” the ailing 53-year-old “climbed back into the dangling carriage and retrieved from the pocket of his coat the installment of Our Mutual Friend that he had just completed and was taking to his publishers.”

The reason he was never publicly lauded for his actions? He was keeping it on the down-low because he was traveling with his mistress.

3. He helped create a home for “fallen women.”

In a world where women had few options to support themselves and their families, prostitution was a common crime, but one that was severely punished. After an appeal from heiress Angela Coutts, he helped create “Urania House” where former prostitutes could learn to read and write, as well keep house.

Dickens searched prisons and workhouses for potential candidates and interviewed them personally. He even established the house rules. Approximately 100 women “graduated” from Urania House.