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Published to mark the 200th anniversary of Dickens's birth, this book celebrates the greatest of English novelists by illustrating some of his abiding preoccupations. Prompted by quotations from the novels and other writings, each themed chapter explores contemporary images relating to salient topics of the Victorian age such as the public entertainments of London and the domestic pastimes of its inhabitants; the coming of the railways (which were to transform Victorian England in fiction and in fact); school life for children, and conditions in the workhouses and prisons which loom so large in many of the novels and which blighted Dickens's own childhood. Dickens was an incorrigible showman, and this book also explores his role as actor-manager of theatrical productions, as originator of the myriad stage adaptations of his books, and as supreme interpreter of them himself in the public readings which came to dominate his later years. Reproducing key extracts from the novels alongside a selection of the original covers as they appeared weekly and monthly in the bookshops, their crucial illustrations and all the paraphernalia of nineteenth-century advertising, is a unique approach which breathes life into the vibrant world of Dickens and his characters.