Charles Dickens’ second novel, Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy’s Progress, was first
published as a serial (in monthl y instalments) in the magazine Bentley’s Miscellany
from February 1837 to April 1839. The novel was inspired by Robert Blincoe’s
account of his childhood spent in a cotton mill.
Oliver Twist, an orphan, is born in a w orkhouse and later sold off into an
apprenticeship. Dickens situates his protagonist amid the squalid lives of beggars,
criminals and petty thieves. Trapped in a world of corruption and poverty, Oliver
with his pure heart is rewarded with a fair ytale ending.
The dark reality of child labour, the effects of industrialisation and the condition
of orphans in London in the mid-19th centur y form the crux of Dickens’ heartrending
About Charles Dickens
Born on 7 February 1812, in Portsmouth, Charles Dickens was one
of the greatest novelists of the Victorian era. He created some of the most intriguing
fictional characters in literature. The author’s success began with the 1836
publication of the Pickwick Papers, following which he became an international celebrity.
Known for his humour, satire and incisive representation of society through his
characters, his literary triumphs include A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Oliver
Twist, and Great Expectations. A literary colossus of his time, he wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas, hundreds
of short stories and non-fiction articles. He even performed for Queen Victoria in
1851. Such was the charisma of the author that the term ‘Dickensian’ is still used to
describe situations reminiscent of his narratives. Literary stalwarts like Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell and G.K. Chesterton admired him for his comedy, prose style and
realism. The quintessential Victorian author died in 1870, and was buried in Westminster