A Day on Board the "Defence" Hulk by Mayhew, 1862

Prisons appear in almost all of Dickens's novels. The shadow of prisons must have loomed large over Dickens's life; in 1824 his father had been arrested for debt and sent to the Marshalsea Debtor's Prison. Here he was joined by most of his family, while the young Charles worked in a factory making blacking for boots.

Convicts in the Victorian era could expect a very gloomy future in prison. These pages from Henry Mayhew's, The Criminal Prisons of London (1862) describe in sinister detail the conditions experienced by the average prisoner.