Pip's life as an ordinary country boy is destined to be unexceptional until a chain of mysterious events lead him away from his humble origins and up the social ladder. His efforts to become a London gentleman bring him into contact not just with the upper classes but also with dangerous criminals. His desire to improve himself is matched only by his longing for the icy-hearted Estella, but secrets from the past impede his progress and he has many hard lessons to learn.
'In the little world in which children have their existence, whosever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice' Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Landport in Portsmouth. When he was twelve years old he was sent to work in a shoe polish factory because his father had been imprisoned for debt. The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836, the same year that he married Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of Oliver Twist began in 1837 while The Pickwick Papers was still running. Dickens became a celebrity in America as well as Britain. He set up and edited the journals Household Words (1850-9) and All the Year Round (1859-70). Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870 leaving his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.