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In this article, I analyze the forgotten influence of Andrew Lang's psycho-folkloric approach to Dickens. At the turn of the century, Lang raised questions about genius and authorial control that would remain active in twentieth-century literary criticism, and which shaped subsequent writings on Dickens by G. K. Chesterton, Arthur Machen and George Orwell. Lang drew on his expertise as a classicist, anthropologist and psychic researcher to champion a Dickens who tapped into humans' earliest feelings and mental impulses. Here, I argue that psycho-folklore sought to dispel Dickens's associations with literary vulgarity, but also confined popular literature to an eternal folk past.