OTD in 1854, Charles Dickens’ novel, ‘Hard Times’, begins serialisation in his magazine Household Words. Unusually for Dickens, Hard Times is set, not in London, but in the imaginary mid-Victorian Northern industrial town of Coketown with its blackened factories, downtrodden workers & polluted environment. This is the soulless domain of the strict utilitarian Thomas Gradgrind & the heartless factory owner Josiah Bounderby. However human joy is not excluded thanks to ‘Mr Sleary’s Horse-Riding’ circus, a gin-soaked & hilarious troupe of open-hearted & affectionate people who act as an antidote to all the drudgery & misery endured by the ordinary citizens of Coketown.

Macaulay attacked Hard Times for its `sullen socialism’, but 20th-century critics such as George Bernard Shaw and F.R. Leavis have … More

First published OTD in 1843, Charles Dickens’, ‘A Christmas Carol’. Throughout his life, Dickens was a champion of the poor and oppressed, as well as a critic of aristocratic and high-Church elitism. Written when Dickens was 31, this tale of ghosts and greed so thrilled him that he literally wept and laughed over it. The protagonist, Scrooge, is an oppressing, greedy, lover of money—a cold, wretched shell of a man who has lost all sense of kindness. Of all the characters in the Dickens gallery, the old miser is the most memorable representation of that which Dickens hated in individuals and society.

P.J. Lynch’s detailed and atmospheric artwork for this lavish, unabridged edition conjures up Dickensian London and its inhabitants with breathtaking … More