Literature & Social Campaigning

John Mullen discusses how Dickens used literature to campaign against injustices such as the Yorkshire Schools

John Mullen discusses how Dickens used literature to campaign against injustices such as the Yorkshire Schools

 

Simon Callow reads from Nicholas Nickleby - Wackford Squeers

Simon Callow reads from Nicholas Nickleby - Wackford Squeers

Dickens dared speak directly to his readers. Sometimes he exhorted them, roused them to indignation, even buttonholed them, about the injustices of their world.

Click on the films above to hear John Mullen discussing the ways in which Dickens used literature to campaign against injustices in the world, such as the appalling conditions of the Yorkshire Schools; and Simon Callow reading a description of Wackford Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby. Filmed at the Dickens Museum, London.

Then explore the historical and literary sources to find out more.

Historical & Literary Sources

Newspaper Article: Trial of William Shaw, 1823

This newspaper article describes the legal trial in which Bowes Academy (a Yorkshire School) was investigated for negligence.

 

Advert for Bowes Academy, 1817

This is an advertisement for Bowes Academy, the nightmarish school on which Dickens based Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby.

 

Preface to the 'Cheap Edition' of Oliver Twist

Dickens's handwritten preface to the 'cheap edition' of Oliver Twist

 

Dickens's letter on execution, 1849

In 1849, Charles Dickens, along with 30 thousand other spectators, watched the hanging of a notorious pair of murderers, and was appalled by what he saw.