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IN this small volume there are presented as complete stories the boy-lives portrayed in the works of
Charles Dickens. The boys are followed only to the threshold of manhood, and in all cases the
original text of the story has been kept, except where of necessity a phrase or paragraph has been
inserted to connect passages;—while the net-work of characters with which the boys are surrounded
in the books from which they are taken, has been eliminated, except where such characters seem
necessary to the development of the story in hand.
Charles Dickens was a loyal champion of all boys, and underlying his pen pictures of them was an
earnest desire to remedy evils which he had found existing in London and its suburbs. Poor Jo, who
was always being "moved on," David Copperfield, whose early life was a picture of Dickens' own
childhood, workhouse-reared Oliver, and the miserable wretches at Dotheboy Hall were no mere
creations of an author's vivid imagination. They were descriptions of living boys, the victims of
tyranny and oppression which Dickens felt he must in some way alleviate. And so he wrote his novels
with the histories in them which affected the London public far more deeply, of course, than they
affect us, and awakened a storm of indignation and protest.
Schools, work-houses, and other public institutions were subjected to a rigorous examination, and in
consequence several were closed, while all were greatly improved. Thus, in his sketches of boy-life,
Dickens accomplished his object.
My aim is to bring these sketches, with all their beauty and pathos, to the notice of the young
people of to-day. If through this volume any boy or girl should be aroused to a keener interest in
the great writer, and should learn to love him and his work, my labour will be richly repaid.