I am something of a fan of Victorian literature.
To illustrate this, let me tell you that growing up I named a cat Charlie after Dickens, Tess after Tess of the D'Urbervilles (I don't think as a 13 year old I quite understood the rape scene…) and my illustrious mother had a cat called Trollope.
As a fan I have been so pleased to see the publicity old Dickens is getting on his bicentenary. He wrote some of the best characters and stories in English Literature and any publicity that will drive people to actually read his books is a Very Good Thing.
You can barely move today without seeing an article about him, or a TV adaptation. Even Google are honouring him on their homepage. Here are two of my suggestions about how you can gain a little insight into the fellow.
Firstly the Museum of London (where I used to work) has a fabulous exhibition all about Dickens' life and his experiences of London. More information here. While you are there you should check out the London Wall Bar and Kitchen, a fabulous restaurant within the museum walls
Secondly, one of my fave websites is Letters of Note. It does exactly what it says on the tin - it is a collection of interesting letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes etc. It is fascinating and charming - nothing can make a person from history come to life as reading a letter they sent their mum / husband / school teacher etc. Dickens was a great letter writer and I urge you to read their selection of his letters here and here specifically this one (warning the last one brought a tear to my eye)