ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Charlie Chaplain Book Review

Updated on February 3, 2018

About the book

Author: Peter Ackroyd

Published: 2003

Publisher: Chatto & Windsor

Genre: Biography

Charlie Chaplain is a name that is known the world over. Yet, who was he? What was he like as a man? This book gives us a unique insight into the man, his life and career and his move to Switzerland in his latter years.

The book begins with Charlie's early life in South London. Although there is no official record of his birth, Charlie believes he was born in Walworth, South London. Both Charlie and his older brother Sydney was brought up in extreme poverty. Their mother, Hannah, had a short career as an entertainer. Unfortunately, she had mental health problems, an was sent to an asylum when Charlie was just a young boy. Both him and Sydney were sent to the workhouse for a while. Born in 1889, his childhood was fraught with continuous moving homes, different father figures in his life, his mother suffering with ill health and a spell of walking the streets of London. It was in 1989 that he joined The Eight Lancashire Lads, where he got his first experience of the entertainment industry.

The book covers the life of Charlie from his early childhood days in London, and his breakthrough onto the early days of television and the silent films. It was quite early on that he started directing his own movies, along with doing his own stunts and casting his own leading ladies in his film. It was when he moved to the USA when he really became famous and his name became known worldwide. Not only does the book cover his professional career, but also his personal life and the troubles he had with his girlfriends and wives. He had a very close relationship with his brother, Sydney. His mother, Hannah, had a lifelong battle with mental health, and although Charlie did not see a great deal of her, he did pay for her care.

It is easy to see why Charlie turned out to be the man he was when you consider his difficult upbringing. His stepfather, also called Charlie Chaplain, died at an early age due to alcoholism, and not knowing who his real father was. Yes, he could be a difficult man to work alongside with and would often lose his temper when things weren't done to perfection. People found him difficult to work with. This can also be said about the women he lived with. He would be extremely hard work and is known to have numerous affairs. But people would also comment on the fact that he always had that shy, sad look in his piercing eyes. It is understandable where he got the idea of 'The Little Tramp' look from looking back to his childhood. He strived for perfection in everything he did in life, as he was always scared of losing everything. He wasn't happy unless he was working.

The book ends with his final move to Switzerland and his long marriage to Oona and his role as a father to his many children. The book has a few pictures contained in it with photo's of himself as a young man, The Little Tramp, and as he was later on in life. Although The Little Tramp was far behind him, Chaplin was clearly a work-a-holic, and the book discusses in detail his love for making films and always thinking about his next project. There are notes and quotes in the book from his children, remembering their father and what he was like as a man.


A day without laughter is a day wasted.

— Charlie Chaplin

My Thoughts

The book gives us a unique insight into Charlie Chaplin. There's not many people on this planet who has not heard his name. But how many people know what he was like to work with and to live with? This book gives the reader about his life from the time he was born to his death in 1977. Having been born into extreme poverty, and with a mother who had suffered on and off all her life with mental health, it is interesting to know why he was the man he was. He had a close bond with his brother, Sydney, and this is discussed in the book. Charlie Chaplin was, indeed, a difficult man to live and work with. But, he was a genius in his work and throughout the course of his career, made so many films that is still remembered and watched today. Charlie always had this underlying fear that he would suffer with mental health problems like his mother, Hannah. And, although Charlie suffered with bouts of depressions and low points throughout his life, he proved to be a unique and colourful character in the film industry. He was, and still is, a very highly respected actor and man.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I couldn't put it down. I find Charlie a complicated and intriguing. He strived for perfection in everything he did and this book goes into great detail into telling us about Charlie Chaplin - the actor and the man.


Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd

© 2018 Louise Powles


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great review and a well written article!

      We have grown up, watching Charlie Chaplin movies, and I still like watching it. I have read his biography, and as such familiar with some of the points, you mentioned here. But I came to know a lot more through your hub.

      Thanks for sharing this excellent article!

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Claire. I'm sure she'll enjoy it. =)

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      It sounds like a really interesting read, my wife is a big fan so I will recommend this to her.

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Dora. Yes, it was a very interesting book. =)

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Thankyou Harish. Yes, I think he was such a wonderful actor. He made some great films.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Yet he provided so much laughter for the world! We really can't tell what a man has been through by just looking at him. Thanks for sharing these details; I would enjoy the book.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      2 years ago from New Delhi , India

      Who on earth isn't familiar with such a wonderful personality of Chalie Chaplin ! I got to know more of this great man through this hub. Lousie, I enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for sharing this informative hub.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I didn't realize that Charlie Chaplin had such a sad start to life. Thank you for sharing the information and the book review.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      I am always looking for a good read, and this sounds like a book that I want to put on my "to do" list. Thank you for a very informative book review.

    • profile image

      Pat Mills 

      2 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      To add to Clive's comment, Chaplain played a Hitler-like leader in The Great Dictator, which also featured Chaplain in his final performance as his famous Little Tramp.

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Yes, he looks very much like him. They were, in fact, only born 4 days apart.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      2 years ago from Jamaica

      his face reminds me of hitler.

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Yes, it's very interesting. I couldn't put it down. He was a very complex man. But, I love and admire his work.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I agree, Charlie Chaplin is an interesting man. I can understand his fear of losing everything, with the way his childhood was. This sounds like a book I would like to read!

    • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Yes Mary I agree, he has entertained people all over the world over the years. He was certainly a very clever man.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like Charlie Chaplin and his movies. He makes me laugh and that is important to me. Given his early life, it is understandable that he exhibited hardness in character and a hard man to work with. Still, he has entertained so many of us and that is how we'll remember him.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)