Description

Dating from 1817, this is an advertisement for Bowes Academy, the nightmarish school on which Charles Dickens based Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby. It was originally published in The Times newspaper.

The advertisement specifies that the school 'does not allow any vacations' – parents could thus leave their unwanted children there indefinitely. Many Yorkshire schools were notorious for providing cheap, squalid places for parents to dump their sons and daughters. In 1838 Dickens visited Bowes Academy to carry out research for Nicholas Nickleby – he intended to expose the horrors of these schools to the public. William Shaw, the school's headmaster, had been prosecuted in 1823 when two of his pupils went blind, allegedly due to poor conditions and lack of hygiene at the school.

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