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Dickens, Charles

Oliver Twist (1837)

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One of Dickens' most enduringly popular stories is Oliver Twist, an early work published 1837-8. Like many of his later novels, its central theme is the hardship faced by the dispossessed and those of the outside of 'polite' society. Oliver himself is born in a workhouse and treated cruelly there as was the norm at the time for pauper children, in particular by Bumble, a parish council official or 'beadle'. The story follows Oliver as he escapes the workhouse and runs away to London.

The book calls the public's attention to various contemporary social evils, including the Poor Law that states that poor people should work in workhouses, child labour and the recruitment of children as criminals.


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