Penguin Classics give you the best possible editions of Charles Dickens's novels,
including all the original illustrations, useful and informative introductions, the
definitive, accurate text as it was meant to be published, a chronology of Dickens's life
and notes that fill in the background to the book.
The work of a young novelist at the height of his powers, Nicholas Nickleby is
one of the touchstones of the English comic novel. Around the central story of Nicholas
Nickleby and the misfortunes of his family, Dickens created some of his most wonderful
characters: the muddle-headed Mrs Nickleby, the gloriously theatrical Crummles, the slow-
witted orphan Smike, the pretentious Mantalinis and the mindlessly cruel Squeers and his
wife. The novel's loose, haphazard progress harks back to the picaresque novels of the
18th century, particularly those of Smollett and Fielding. Yet its exuberant atmosphere of
romance, adventure and freedom is overshadowed by Dickens' awareness of social ills and
financial and class insecurity.
Mark Ford’s introduction compares Nicholas Nickleby to eighteenth-century
picaresque novels, and examines Dickens’s criticism of the ‘Yorkshire Schools’, his social
satire and use of language. This edition also includes the original illustrations by
‘Phiz’, a chronology and a list for further reading.