The Alexandra Orphanage for Infants, London, was set up in 1864 as a home for children before they were old enough to attend the Orphan Working School. One of the first charities of its kind, the Orphan Working School was founded in 1758.
Published in 1870, this collection of fiction and non-fiction writing was intended to raise funds for the charity. As fits a gift-book each element is carefully designed and highly ornamental. It is bound in an attractive, plush cover of blue leather with gold tooling and features a photograph of the orphanage in the frontispiece.
The pieces shown here provide an insight into why the orphanage was set up and how it was run.
Charles Dickens’s involvementA year after Charles Dickens depicted ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’ in A Christmas Carol, he pledged an annual donation to the Orphan Working School. He subsequently became a Governor of the Charity, and later donated funds to the Alexandra Orphanage for Infants.
- Article by:
- Ruth Richardson
- London, Poverty and the working classes, Childhood and children's literature
Ruth Richardson explores the world of poverty, high mortality, prejudice and charity that influenced the creation of Oliver Twist.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- Childhood and children's literature, The novel 1832 - 1880
Why do orphans appear so frequently in 19th-century fiction? Professor John Mullan reflects on the opportunities they provide for authors, considering some of the most famous examples of the period.