The distinctive combination of manic comedy, bitter satire and fierce melodrama separates this novel from its author's other works. Published in 1844 after Dickens returned from America, the action moves between Britain and United States in ways which highligh the failing of both societies. The Everyman edition is being published to tie in with a major BBC TV serialization in the autumn.
Charles Dickens was born in Hampshire on February 7, 1812. His father was a clerk in the navy pay office, who was well paid but often ended up in financial troubles. When Dickens was twelve years old he was send to work in a shoe polish factory because his family had been taken to the debtors' prison. Fagin is named after a boy Dickens disliked at the factory. His career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays began to appear in periodicals.
The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836. In the same year he married the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of
Oliver Twist began in 1837 while
The Pickwick Papers was still running. Many other novels followed and
The Old Curiosity Shop brought Dickens international fame and he became a celebrity in America as well as Britain. He separated from his wife in 1858. Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his last novel,
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.