Charles Dickens' first published piece of fiction, "Sketches by Boz", began as a series of tales about a young reporter whose articles chronicle the lives of many colourful characters, including child workers and prostitutes, living and working in London in the 1830s. Often drawing on Dickens' own experiences these tales, by turns humorous and heartbreaking, hint at the unforgettable characters and stories to come in his later novels. This remarkable collection, which travels from the sordid gin shops of central London to the ramshackle parish elections in Richmond and beyond, marked the beginning of Dickens' long and successful career as one of the world's most well-loved authors. This special edition features an exclusive introduction by the highly-acclaimed writer Peter Ackroyd, one of Britain's leading literary biographers.
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Sketches by Boz collected a rich and strange mixture of reportage, observation, fancy and fiction centred on the metropolis. It was Dickens's first book, published when he was twenty-four, and in it we find him walking the London streets, in theatres, pawnshops, lawcourts, prisons, along the Thames and on the omnibus, missing nothing, recording and transforming urban and suburban life into new terrain for literature. 'The first sprightly runnings of his genius are undoubtedly here, ' wrote Dickens's friend and biographer John Forster. Sketches is a remarkable achievement, and looks towards Dickens's giant novels in its profusion of characters, its glimpses of surreal modernity and its limitless fund of pathos and comic invention.
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