Oliver Twist

Charles Dickens’s (1812-1870) second novel, originally published in serial parts 1837-39, and as a three volume edition in 1838. Dickens was deeply disturbed by the harsh Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Subtitled 'The Parish Boy’s Progress', Oliver Twist conveys concerns about the impact of poverty and the flaws of the workhouse system.  Oliver, an orphan, spends his early years in grim institutions. After causing consternation by requesting more food, he is apprenticed to an undertaker, but absconds and becomes part of a pickpocket gang, controlled by the manipulative Fagin. One of the author’s motives was to counter the sensational and glamorous depiction of criminals in ‘Newgate’ fiction, a popular genre of the 1830s.

Manuscript of the Preface to the 1850 edition of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist

Manuscript of the Preface to the 1850 edition of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist [folio: 7r]

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Charles Dickens
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The Parish Boy's Progress
Victorian literature
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