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Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

1838

Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

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    This is the handwritten draft of ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, penned by Charles Dickens around July 1838. Dickens was not only a master of storytelling; he was also foremost among 19th-century novelists in confronting his middle-class readers with the human face of social deprivation. In doing so, his writings smoothed the path of reform. Through his sharply drawn characters and compelling plots, Dickens created an evocative and enduring image of the Victorian underclass, tempering poverty with hope and wringing humour from despair.

     

    Charles Dickens’s novel, Nicholas Nickleby, was first published in monthly parts between March 1838 and September 1839. Nicholas’s adventures take him to Dotheboys Hall, home of the brutal schoolmaster Wackford Squeers – one of Dickens’s greatest grotesques. Nicholas is appalled by the treatment of the school’s orphans, in particular a frail and simple-mined boy called Smike. It was Dickens’s intention to reveal to the public the horrors of Yorkshire’s boarding schools, where parents would dump their unwanted children for indefinite periods. The lack of hygiene and the inhumane treatment of pupils was a source of great scandal at the time.

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    Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

    Original text:

     

    Life and adventures Nicholas Nickleby - no. V/

     

    Chapter XV.

    Acquaints the reader with the cause and origin of the interruption described in the last chapter, and with some other matters necessary to be known.

    Newman Noggs scrambled in violent haste upstairs with the steaming beverage, which he had so unceremoniously snatched from the table of Mr Kenwigs, and indeed from the very grasp of the water-rate collector, who was eyeing the contents of the tumbler, at the moment of its unexpected abstraction, with lively marks of pleasure visible in his countenance. He bore his prize straight to his own back-garret, where, footsore and nearly shoeless, wet, dirty, jaded, and disfigured with every mark of fatiguing travel, sat Nicholas and Smike, at once the cause and partner of his toil; both perfectly [worn out by their unwonted and protracted exertion.]

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