Partly from natural inclination and partly by way of taking refuge from an irregular and problematical family life, the young boy immersed himself in the world of imagination. He read Shakespeare, Addison, Fielding, Goldsmith, and several other authors avidly. He was also fond of reciting, acting, and theatre-going, activities in which his father encouraged him. He also wandered happily along the Thames and through the towns and nearby countryside of Kent (England's warmest and most serene region), where the Dickenses resided from 1817 to 1822. Dickens' affection for Chatham, Rochester, and other towns in Kent ripened over the years, and his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (left unfinished), is set in Rochester and contains some of the author's most vivid and evocative writing. Both his reading and his recitals, as well as his acting, served to educate Dickens for what would
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