As I sit here with my kids watching the original 1966 Batman movie, a character mentions Charles Dickens. This makes me wonder whether there will be any Shakespeare references, which makes me remember that Shakespeare is credited with first use of the term “what the dickens.”
Then it dawns on me … is there a connection there? What came first, the family or the expression?
The House of Names website tells me that Dickens as a family name dates back to Norman origins from 1066.
I have to admit, I’m curious. That would suggest that Dickens as a surname was plenty common during the time Shakespeare wrote “I can not tell what the dickens his name is” (Merry Wives, by the way).
So, what’s the joke?