Dickens's interest in fallen women (women like Emily and Martha, who were social outcasts for being sexually active outside of marriage) wasn't just academic or fictional. Together with his good buddy, Angela Georgina Burdett Coutts, Dickens set up a rehab facility for such women called Urania Cottage. Dickens wasn't just an armchair social activist. He was willing to put his money where his mouth was (source).
Dickens was a bit of a ham: later on in his life, in addition to his writing career, he started touring both England and the United States as an actor. He did dramatic recitations of his own stories throughout the 1860s. And Dickens's love of the acting life did not end with his own acting: he also carried on an affair with the beautiful actress, Ellen Ternan, after separating with his wife Catherine (source).