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One of Dickens' early works, Nicholas Nickleby combines comedy and tragedy in a tale of triumph over adversity that is interspersed with Dickens' moving condemnation of society's mistreatment of children and the cruelty of the educational system. Young Nickleby struggles to seek his fortune in Victorian England, yet succeeds despite social injustice, in a story that mirrors Dickens' own rise from poverty to great success.
One of eight children, Dickens came from a very poor family, with his father eventually being sent to debtor's prison. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to start work in a blacking factory in order to help clear the family debt.
Dickens depicts a funny version of his own mother in the character of Mrs. Nickleby, his feelings towards her dark and complex. He never forgave her for trying to keep him working against her husband's wishes.
Hailed as a comic triumph with a cast of incredible characters, it firmly established Dickens as a 'literary gentleman'.
Full of typically Dickensian elements, the book is well suited to dramatic adaptation.
It is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of 19th century literature and continues to entertain its fans to this day.
Three-time Olivier Award winner actor Alex Jennings has had an extensive career with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. His recent stage performances have included Willy Wonka in 2014's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical and Professor Henry Higgins in the 2016 Australian 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady. In 2006 he played Prince Charles opposite Helen Mirren in The Queen and has had other roles in films such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006) and The Lady in the Van (2015). His television work has included the BBC TV series Cranford (2007) and long running legal drama Silk (2011-2014). In 2016 he featured in the Netflix series The Crown and the ITV series Victoria. He has narrated many audiobooks including Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which in 2008 was chosen as one of the top 40 audiobooks of all time.