Last week, Charles Dickens celebrated his 200th birthday.
Scarcely a day went by that Dickens didn't flee his desk and take to the streets of London and its suburbs. He routinely walked as many as 20 miles a day, and once set out at 2 a.m. to walk from his house in London to his country residence in Gad's Hill, Kent, 30 miles away. As several of his walking companions described it, he had a distinctive "swinging" gait.
He often took houseguests on long, brisk walks. As Dickens wrote to his close friend, John Forster, "[Frank] Stone is still here, and I lamed his foot by walking him 17 miles the day before yesterday, but otherwise he flourisheth."
"Being requested to give them a breather yesterday," wrote Dickens, "I gave them a stiff one of five miles over a bad road, half the distance uphill, in the snow. I took them at a pace of four and a half miles an hour, and you never beheld such objects as they were when we got back; both smoking like factories, and both obliged to change everything before they could come to dinner."