How influential was Charles Dickens on society in the countries in which he was read? He seemed to be more than a popular author. He was a campaigner on social issues. The 19th century was one of great change and great social reform. For example, at the start of that century, you might be executed for dozens of not particularly serious offences. By the end of the century, you would only be hanged for premeditated murder. I don't think that had much to do with Dickens, but perhaps there were others issues in which he was more influential. For instance, children started to get some rights, including state provided education by the 1870s. Divorce laws were loosened just a little bit. Dickens was very widely read. He was part of the school syllabus by the early 1900's.