THE CHARLES DICKENS ENCYCLOPEDIA
Compiled by MICHAEL and MOLLIE
HARDWICK 531 pages. Scribner's. $15.
Christmas is a time when people reach for their Dickens, in their minds if not on their bookshelves. The prevailing sentiments of the season, after all, stem as much from Dickens' Scrooge and Bob Cratchit as from the Christian church or Macy's. Thus this compendium of material by and about England's greatest popular novelist is timely. Not too timely, though, for it is no glossy candy box of a book. Unillustrated and unpretentious, its value will endure many Christmases.
The Hardwicks, an English husband-wife writing team, have gone against the usual...