Ruth Richardson: "Dickens & the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor"

Ruth Richardson: "Dickens & the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor"

The recent discovery that as a youth Charles Dickens lived only a few doors from a major London workhouse made headlines worldwide. Diane and her guest talk about the campaign to save it from demolition and Dicken's pre-occuptation with the bleak workhouse at the heart of his novel.

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.

Guests

Ruth Richardson

historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Read An Excerpt

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:

Please familiarize yourself with our Code of Conduct and Terms of Use before posting your comments.

Our address has changed!

The Diane Rehm Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.