Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens: a life is the choice of @bellitum:
Fascinating in its detail. Wonderfully researched. Third Tomalin biog I have read (Pepys, Hardy). All great. Intrigued as to how Dickens was so humane towards the downtrodden and yet so cruel to some of his own family. A puzzle. Great springboard for reading more Dickens - read Barnaby Rudge in the past year as a result.