Government report on Metropolitan Workhouses, 1848

 

Perhaps the most famous of all the set pieces in Dickens's novels is the scene in Oliver Twist in which Oliver asks for 'more' food, whilst languishing in a workhouse. Dickens was determined to expose the horrors of the workhouses to his readers, and ultimately to persuade them of the need for reforms. This government report details the terrible conditions of the Metropolitan workhouses in 1848, including overcrowding, a lack of ventilation, a lack of a 'water closet' (or toilet), and a meagre diet for inmates.