Dickens /Major /Oliver Twist

Forward to Nicholas NicklebyHis LifeHis WorksHis Characters – Go to Bob Denton.com

Oliver Twist – 1837-1839 – a monthly serialised novel

The second novel of Charles Dickens was Oliver Twist, its first edition had a much longer title:
Oliver Twist or, The Parish Boy’s Progress.

It was initially published in monthly instalments that began in February 1837 and ended in April 1839.

This is the tale of a charity boy who has fallen to the bottom of society, but who through several acts of goodwill is restored to his rightful position. He meets with all manner of characters that bring Victorian Britain to life.

Dickens named the character Fagin after Bob Fagin, a fellow employee that young Charles Dickens met when he worked at a blacking factory.
Oliver Twist is an orphaned child,

His mother died during his birth. He is therefore growing up in a workhouse in the town of Mudfog.

We join the action when Mr Bumble, the beadle of the parish, takes 9-year-old Oliver out of the baby farm, where greedy Mrs Mann had been the superintendent.

Oliver is small and frail, he is moved into the workhouse where they pick and plait oakum. The boys are hungry and they draw lots to see who will ask for more. Oliver loses and duly requests more gruel. The furore leads to Oliver being offered as an apprentice for anyone, with the added inducement of £5.

Mr Sowerberry, a funeral director, takes up the offer. He finds Oliver’s doleful looks useful to his profession, and has him play the role of a mute at the funerals. However, Oliver’s co-worker, Noah Claypole, a fellow ‘charity boy’, and Charlotte, the Sowerberry maidservant, bully him for being well-received by their boss. Despite Sowerberry and his wife’s better treatment, Oliver decided to run away to London where he expects to find a better life.

On the way to London he meets up with Jack Dawkins, a pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger, and Charley Bates. Dodger gives Oliver a free meal and suggests that he seek out in London a gentleman called Fagin, who will give him free board.

Fagin teaches the boys how to pickpocket, but while Dodger and Charley steal the handkerchief of Mr Brownlow they flee the scene. Oliver starts to run but is caught by Brownlow, who relents and takes the boy in.

He and his housekeeper, Mrs Bedwin, notice a resemblance between Oliver and a portrait that hangs on the wall at Brownlow’s.

Fagin is worried that Oliver might reveal his gang. He despatches Nancy, a young woman, and her abusive manfriend, Bill Sikes, accompanied by his vicious dog Bullseye, to bring Oliver back into his fold. Sykes was also charged by Fagin to carry out a burglary. The burglary is bungled and during the fuss Oliver is shot in the arm.

Oliver is taken in by those he had planned to rob, Miss Rose Maylie who lives with her aunt/guardian, Mrs Lindsay Maylie. Oliver is well treated by them both. Harry Maylie proposes to Roase but is rebuffed.

Old Sally, a nursemaid, is dying and on her deathbed, mumbles about the death during childbirth of one of her charges. The child was born sickly, and called Oliver.

Meanwhile, a character identified as Monks conspires with Fagin to find and dispose of anything that identifies Oliver’s true identity. A repentant Nancy tells Rose the background story, who in turn tells Brownlow.

Fagin learns of Nancy’s actions and sends Noah Claypole, now part of Fagin’s gang, to spy on her. Claypole learns of her meeting with Mylie and Brownlow.

Fagin tells Sikes, who in a fit of rage beats Nancy to death. The police and a developing mob pursues Sikes, He tries to escape over roofs but falls and is hung.

Monks is revealed to be Oliver’s half-brother, who seeks to kill Oliver and inherit the fortune of their father, Mr Leeford.

Brownlow negotiates that Oliver will allow Monks his annuity, but the rest is to come to Olive, and so that they might both move on. We learn that Monks takes his half and squanders it, he then turns to crime and dies in prison.

Fagin is arrested, tried and convicted to hang on the gallows. Mr Brownlow and Oliver visit Fagin in Newgate prison on the eve of his execution, trying to recover some of Monks’ papers. But Fagin is preoccupied with his death.

The Bumbles lose their positions, slump into poverty and are admitted into the workhouse.

All of Fagin’s gang come to a sticky end, apart from Charley Bates who turned against Fagin and pursued an honest life. Charley moves to the country and becomes prosperous.

Rose is discovered as Oliver’s aunt. His dead mother, her sister, is revealed as Agnes Fleming. Rose marries Harry. Oliver is adopted by Mr Brownlow.

Fagin, training his team

The Artful Dodger


Oliver Twist – both his mother and father are dead
Mr Bumble – a beadle in the parish workhouse
Mr Brownlow – a kindly gentleman who takes Oliver in
Fagin – a criminal fence and boss of a criminal gang of youths
The Artful Dodger – Fagin’s most adept pickpocket
Bill Sikes – a professional burglar
Nancy – one of Fagin’s gang, now living with Bill Sikes

Mrs Mann – superintendent where Oliver is placed until age 9
Mr Sowerberry – an undertaker who took Oliver as apprentice
Mrs Sowerberry – Mr Sowerberry’s wife
Noah Claypole – a cowardly bully, Sowerberry’s apprentice
Charlotte – the Sowerberry maid, lover of Noah
Mr Gamfield – a chimney sweep where Oliver was born
Mr Grimwig – a friend of Mr Brownlow
Mrs Bedwin – Mr Brownlow’s housekeeper
Rose Maylie – Oliver’s second benefactor, found to be his aunt
Mrs Lindsay Maylie – Harry Maylie’s mother. Rose’s aunt
Harry Maylie – Mrs Maylie’s son
Dr Losberne – Mrs Maylie’s family doctor
Mr Giles – Mrs Maylie’s butler
Mr Brittles – Mrs Maylie’s handyman
Duff and Blathers – two incompetent policemen
Bull’s Eye – Bill Sikes’s vicious dog
Charley Bates – a pickpocket in Fagin’s gang,who relents
Toby Crackit – a house-breaker associate of Fagin and Sikes
Betsy (Bet) – a girl in Fagin’s gang, sometime friend to Nancy
Barney – a criminal cohort of Fagin
Agnes Fleming – Oliver’s mother
Edwin Leeford – father of Oliver and Monks
Old Sally – a nurse who attended Oliver’s birth
Mrs Corney – matron for the women’s workhouse
Monks, aka Edward Leeford – a half-brother to Oliver
Monks’s mother – an heiress who did not love her husband
Mr Fang – a magistrate
Tom Chitling – one of Fagin’s gang members

Barker, Phil
Bayton, Mrs
Chickweed, Conkey
Corney, Mr
Grannett, Mr
Limbkins, Mr
Lively, Mr
Mann, Mrs
Slout, Mr
Sowerberry, Mr
Sowerberry, Mrs
Spyers, Jem
Thingummy, Mrs

1 – March 1836 (chapters 1–2) – Oliver’s birth, life in the workhouse
2 – April (chapters 3–5) – Oliver ‘To Let’, and a funeral
3 – May (chapters 6–8) – Oliver’s tormentors and travel to London
4 – June (chapters 9-11) – Fagin, pickpocketing, capture and Brownlow
5 – July (chapters 12–14) – better treatment, Fagin’s fears
6 – August (chapters 15–17) – Bill Sikes send Nancy for Oliver, search begun
7– September (chapters 18–20) – back with Fagin, the burglary planned
8 – October (chapters 21–23) – the bungled burglary and its after-effects
9 – November (chapters 24–26) – Oliver’s back-story, Monks meets Fagin
10 – December 1836 (chapters 27–29) – Oliver at the Mayville’s
11 – January 1837 (chapters 30–32) – police investigation, settled
12 – February (chapters 33–34)- life with the Mayvilles
13 – March (chapters 35–37) – Fagin ???
14 – April (chapters 38–40) – the Bumbles and Monks, Nancy intervenes
15 – June (chapters 41–43) – Brownlow, Maylie, Claypole, Charlotte, Dodger
16 – July (chapters 44–46) – Nancy, Claypole witnesses the meeting
17 – August (chapters 47–49) – Nancy killed by Sikes, Marks meets Brownlow
18 – September (chapters 50–52) – Sikes dies, Brownlow and Oliver visit Fagin
19-20 – October 1837 (chapters 53–57) – final chapters explain the outcomes.

Forward to Nicholas NicklebyHis LifeHis WorksHis Characters – Go to Bob Denton.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *