Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor

ISBN : 9780199681280

Ruth Richardson
400 Pages
130 x 196 mm
Pub date
Nov 2013
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The recent discovery that as a young man Charles Dickens lived only a few doors from a major London workhouse made headlines worldwide, and the campaign to save the workhouse from demolition caught the public imagination. Internationally, the media immediately grasped the idea that Oliver Twist's workhouse had been found, and made public the news that both the workhouse and Dickens's old home were still standing, near London's Telecom Tower. This book, by the historian who did the sleuthing behind these exciting new findings, presents the story for the first time, and shows that the two periods Dickens lived in that part of London - before and after his father's imprisonment in a debtors' prison - were profoundly important to his subsequent writing career.


Introduction: Oliver Twist and the Workhouse
1. Discovery: Threat, Puzzle, Silences
2. Vicinity: Environs of Gentility, Environs of Poverty
3. Institutions: Hospital and Workhouse
4. Home: House, Landlord, Shop, Inside, Upstairs, Downstairs
5. Street: Looking Down and Around
6. Calamity: Sheerness, Chatham, Camden Town, Marshalsea, Somers Town
7. Young Dickens: Return to Norfolk Street, Young Professional, First Essays
8. Workhouse: St Paul's Parish, Farming the Infant Poor, Paul Pry, Parliament
9. Works: Contemporaries, Sketches, Spectres, Oliver Twist, Names, Echoes
10. The Most Famous Workhouse in the World: Truth and Fiction

About the author: 

Ruth Richardson is a historian and the author of a number of books. The Wall Street Journal described her last book, The Making of Mr. Gray's Anatomy (Oxford University Press) as 'one of those rarities, history that reads like a novel'. That book won the 2009 Medical Journalists' Open Book Award.

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