This edition of Dickens' tenth novel, set in the industrial Midlands, is that of the 1854 first edition. It has been re-edited in the light of scholarly findings made since 1990. Annotations have been revised and expanded. Sections on backgrounds, sources and contemporary reactions include material on industrialism, education and utilitarianism. The criticism section includes 17 essays on the novel, seven of which are new to this edition.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.