“Oliver Twist” or “The Parish Boy’s Progress” was the second novel by the celebrated great English author Charles Dickens.
Oliver Twist was the second book to be published for the young Charles Dickens. At the time of writing the story Dickens was the editor of the Bentley’s Miscellany. When first published the tory was broken down into monthly installments and run out as a series. The installments were first published in February 1837 and continued rolling out until April 1839.
Oliver Twist or The Parish Boys Progress was originally sited to form part of Dickens’s series The Mudfog Papers.
Oliver Twist was not to appear as an independant monthly series until 1846.
Illustrating the series was the task of George Cruikshank. Cruikshank a British caricaturist and book illustrator, praised as the “modern Hogarth” during his life provided one steel etching per month in order to illustrate each exciting installment.
Oliver Twist was first published as a novel six months prior to the series being completed. The publicist employed by Dickens was to be his old friend and employer Richard Bentley (owner and founder of Bentley’s Miscellany) under the Dickens pseudonym of “Boz”. The published article showcased 24 steel-engraved plates by the legendary Cruikshank and was published over three exciting volumes, each one leaving the reader hungry for the next installment.
The story of Oliver Twist in a nut shell
• Oliver Twist (The Parish Boy) is born in a workhouse in a non-Metropolitan town.
• Oliver’s mother has discovered lying in the street extremely sick and pregnant.
• Olivers mother gives birth to him just before she passes away.
• Oliver now an orphan is placed under the care of the harsh Mrs. Mann and the beadle, a notorious Mr. Bumble in the confines of the workhouse.
• The next Twist in Oliver’s journey begins when Olivers piers decide that he should ask for more food (Gruel) in order to feed all of the other starving children in the scrupulous workhouse.
• Oliver’s requests are not met kindly and he is rewarded not with food but with a trashing.
• To make things worse the then apprenticed to Mr. Sowerberry the undertaker (a one Noah Claypole) insults Oliver’s dead mother. In retaliation the distraught Oliver attacks him.
• Oliver is in turn punished further and made to serve under Mr. Sowerberry the undertaker.
• In desperation to escape this most heinous of employments Oliver Twist runs away to the bustling and harsh city of London.
• No sooner is young Oliver in London than he discovered by the Artful Dodger (Jack Dawkins ). Trouble is never far around the corner when hanging with The Artful Dodger for he is a member of Fagin’s (A Jewish social misfit and outcast) gang of pick pocketing and out and out thieving boys.
• Fagin manipulates the young impressionable boys and trains them in the devilish art of pick pocketing.
• Oliver embarks on a pick pocketing mission with The Artful Dodger and another delinquent boy. On realizing what he has been tasked to do Oliver drops his guard and gets caught. (Another Twist in the tale … this time for he better)
• In a bizarre twist of fate the victim of the small time crooks transpires to be Mr. Brownlow, an old benevolent gentleman.
• Mr. Brownlow rescues Oliver from clutches of the police and convinces them not to arrest the young Oliver.
• Mr. Brownlow escorts the frail and very sick Oliver back to his house where Mrs. Bedwin the housekeeper nurses the disheveled Oliver back to life. On awakening from his sickened state Oliver finds himself happy for the very first time in his troubled life.
• Oliver’s happiness was to be short lived as Bill Sikes (A brutal man and notable murderer) kidnaps Oliver with the assistance of Nancy (A redhead prostitute) and Fagin.
• Oliver is soon forced back into a life of crime when he is taken along on a mission to the country to burgle the home of Mrs. Maylie and her adopted niece, Rose.
• In yet another bizarre twist of fate Oliver is shot and wounded. The other escorting thieves escape and leave poor Oliver to fend for him self.
Fortunately for Oliver, Rose and Mrs. Maylie decide to nurse Oliver. On his recovery Oliver tells them of his unbelievable story of misfortune and brutality. Luckily for Oliver the ladies believe him and offer him lodgings.
• Whilst enjoying the hospitality of Rose and Mrs. Maylie Oliver one day notices Fagin and Mr Monks staring in at him through the window of his new found home.
• Nancy overhears that Monks is bribing Fagin to corrupt Olivers innocence. In addition to this she also learns that Oliver savior Rose have some underlying connection.
• Nancy goes on to inform Rose’s friend and advisor Dr. Losberne about her discovery. Unfortunately the praying ears of Noah Claypole witness Nancy and she pays the biggest of prices.
• Bill Sikes murders poor Nancy for her betrayal in a most brutal of manners. In the chase that ensued Bill accidentally hangs himself.
• Fagin and the rest of the gang get what is coming to them when they are arrested. Fagin is sent down and placed in Newgate Prison.
• It transpires that Mr Monks is Oliver’s half brother who is pursuing an inheritance. On investigation Oliver’s fathers will states that he will leave his money to Oliver on the condition that his reputation is not tarnished.
• The information discovered by the late Nancy reveals that Oliver’s dead mother and Rose were sisters. Mr Monks undeservedly receives his share of the family money through inheritance ends up in an American prison where he later dies.
• The conclusion to the story is Oliver being adopted by Mr. Brownlow.