I went down into Yorkshire before I began this book, in very severe winter time which is pretty faithfully described herein. As I wanted to see a schoolmaster or two, and was forewarned that those gentlemen might, in their modesty, be shy of receiving a visit from the author of the _Pickwick Papers, _ I consulted with a professional friend who had a Yorkshire connection, and with whom I concerted a pious fraud. He gave me some letters of introduction, in the name, I think, of my traveling companion; they bore reference to a supposititious little boy who had been left with a widowed mother who didn't know what to do with him; the poor lady had thought, as a means of thawing the tardy compassion of her relations in his behalf, of sending him to a Yorkshire school; I was the poor lady's friend, traveling that way; and if the recipient of the letter could inform me of a school in his neighborhood, the writer would be very much obliged. I went to several places in that part of the country where I understood the schools to be most plentifully sprinkled, and had no occasion to deliver a letter until I came to a certain town which shall be nameless. The person to whom it was addressed, was not at home; but he came down at night, through the snow, to the inn where I was staying. It was after dinner; and he needed little persuasion to sit down by the fire in a warm corner, and take his share of the wine that was on the table. I am afraid he is dead now. . . . -- Charles Dickens
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"The novel has everything: an absorbing melodrama, with a supporting cast of heroes, villains and eccentrics, set in a London where vast wealth and desperate poverty live cheek-by-jow" -- Jasper Rees The Times "Nicholas Nickleby was a revelation. Here was a school - Dotheboy's Hall, with its grotesque headmaster, Wackford Squeers - which was even worse than the prison camp to which my poor innocent parents had confined me! The story of Dotheboy's Hall seemed horribly familiar - the beatings, the bad food. But here was something to which even a child could respond. As well as being sympathetic to the plight of the children, the author was hilarious" -- A.N Wilson "Dickens is huge - like the sky. Pick any page of Dickens and it's immediately recognizable as him, yet he might be doing social satire, or farce, or horror, or a psychological study of a murderer - or any combination of these" -- Susannah Clarke
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