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This year marks the bicentennial of Charles Dickens' birth. For decades, scholars have looked to the novelist’s childhood to explain his pre-occupation with reform. One historian claims she has found a clue that stayed hidden for nearly two centuries. The Old Strand Workhouse in London was slated for demolition in 2010 when Ruth Richardson joined the campaign to save the building. It was then that she made a connection others seem to have missed: As a child, Charles Dickens had lived just a few doors down from the workhouse that was probably the inspiration for his novel, Oliver Twist. A discussion about Charles Dickens, the workhouse, and the London poor.
Excerpt: "Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor" by Ruth Richardson. Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. Copyright 2012 by Ruth Richardson. All rights reserved: