No other novel in the English language so epitomizes upward mobility, the rise from poverty to wealth, as Great Expectations. Often considered to be one of Dickens's best novels, it tells the story of young Pip who is mysteriously helped by two people: escaped convict Magwitch and the eccentric dowager Miss Havisham. Here is storytelling at its best, alive with bigger-than-life characters, plot twists that turn on a dime, and scenes that burst off the page with color.
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 ThePickwick 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.