Oliver Twist, is a novel by English author Charles Dickens. The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naively unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin and is trained to steal for the master.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born at Portsea on February 7, 1812, the second child of John Dickens and his wife Elizabeth. His father, a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, was always getting into debt, and so young Charles grew up as a poor, insecure boy.
After the family moved to London, Charles worked in a blacking factory. Here, for six shillings a week, he pasted labels on blacking bottles. Those few months were the worst for Dickens, and he was never to forget them for the rest of his life. At the age of fifteen, Charles entered a solicitor's office as a junior clerk. Though it was not so well paid, it enabled him to get a certain independence and to meet new people and go to the theatre. In 1833 he wrote his first 'sketch' for the Old Monthly Magazine and followed it up with others.
Within a few years Dickens became the most popular writer of the country. More than that, he had become a public institution. Book followed book and he kept writing till his death. Oliver Twist came in 1838, Nicholas Nickleby a year later. In 1843 he wrote A Christmas Carol, the first of Dickens' Christmas books and later The Cricket on the Hearth, etc.
His other leading works included David Copperfield (in which he drew his father's portrait as Mr Micawber), Bleak House, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, The Uncommercial Traveller, and Great Expectations. His works always showed the dark side of Victorian life. His social criticisms helped to improve school and jail conditions, while his lively characters and moving stories touched the hearts of readers all over the world.
He stayed a great deal abroad, starting public reading of his books. These were a great success but told on his health. He died of a cerebral stroke in 1870, leaving behind an unfinished work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.