Icons of England
  • Introduction
  • The Icons
  • Nominations
  • News
  • Learn & Play
  • Your Comments

Oliver Twist

880 of 1157 nominations


Oliver Twist

Is this an icon?


Oliver Twist

Fagin, the Artful Dodger, Bill Sykes, the doomed Nancy and the orphan boy Oliver himself: it's hard to think of another 19th-century novel that includes a more widely known cast of characters than Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist.

When the novel was published in monthly instalments between February 1837 and April 1839, Dickens was criticised for writing suich a grim tale, set as it is in a London populated by villains, child thieves and prostitutes. In the preface to an edition of 1858, however, the novelist retorted, 'I saw no reason when I wrote this book why the very dregs of life should not serve the purpose of a moral'. The main moral of the story was to point out the shortcomings of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, which further condemned impoverished men, women and children to a life of misery in the workhouse.

Versions of Oliver Twist were appearing in ten London theatres before Dickens had even completed it, and there have been 25 film versions, the first in 1906.
A recent book claimed that Oliver was based on a real-life waif, Robert Blincoe, but many Dickens scholars have disputed this.

The Art Archive/British Museum/Eileen Tweedy


Your comments

You can't get more British than the scenes set in the heart of our Capital City. Oliver Twist is one of the country's most memorable Novels and Films - enjoyed by generations!

Kay Atherton

Of Course it is. It is written by the Portsmouth author, Charles Dickens
Stephanie Knight

Written By a good old Portsmouth Lad - English Through and Through
David Knight

View All Comments (2)



I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England