Charles Dickens was born on this day in 1812. Though he is one of the most iconic writers of the nineteenth-century, there are many things most people don’t know about him. For instance, did you know he coined the term ‘Americanophobia’?
The word has nothing to do with fearing espresso drinks.
Americanophobia n. Fear or dislike of the United States or its culture.
Oscar Wilde usually gets most of the credit for criticizing Americans in Victoriana, but Dickens coined this term in a letter written in 1942.
Nineteenth-century anti-Americanism should be read as a marker of European culture, rather than as a product of U.S. policies. Europeans, including the English, enjoyed poking fun at Americans, Australians, and other European colonies, as if they were too far removed from the origins of high culture.
The only dislike that Dickens personally had for the New World was its abuse of the copyrights on his work. Copyright laws vary from country to country and Dickens had to work hard to prevent the pirating of his books in the U.S.A. and Canada. Dickens travelled extensively through both countries and his son was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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