Originally published in 1903 as a portion of the author’s larger “Children’s Stories in English Literature: From Shakespeare to Tennyson,” and equivalent in length to a physical book of approximately 75 pages, this Kindle edition, in simple language aimed at young readers, describes the lives and work of the great nineteenth-century English novelists and poets, including Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and others.
Dickens was the first novelist—with philanthropic motive, at least—who looked below the surface, and brought to view the human side of the uneducated and often degraded lives of those in the lowest rank of society, and showed that this element had ambitions, hopes, fears, and virtues which differed only in degree from those of the upper classes. In fact, he found that man was always interesting as man quite outside of his surroundings, and he proved the truth of his discovery; for when he gave these pictures of low life to the world he immediately claimed an audience greater than any novelist had ever had since the days of “Robinson Crusoe.”
“Oliver Twist” deals almost entirely with the criminal classes, and contains the story of a young orphan boy whose lot, by a bitter fate, was joined with that of one of the worst characters in London, the miserable Fagin, who kept a training-school for thieves, and whose custom it was to initiate young boys and girls into all kinds of wickedness. These children, whom he picked up here and there, and kept in his power, were his unhappy slaves, and he was their relentless taskmaster. All their comfort in life, their food, shelter, and freedom from blows, depended upon their ability in thieving and other dishonest practices.
About the Author:
American author Henrietta Christian Wright (1854-1899) specialized in writing on literature, history, and science for children. Other works include “Children’s Stories of the Great Scientists” and “Children’s Stories in American History.”