Dickens’ tenth work is a state of the nation novel set in a northern town, whose citizens strain under the pressure of the industrial revolution. This short novel, serialised weekly in Dickens’ journal Household Words, rejects what the author perceived to be the selfish solutions offered by utilitarian philosophy, particularly the Poor Law, and advocated greater workers’ rights for all. Alongside this heavy matter are some of Dickens’ most brilliant set pieces: Mr Gradgrind’s schoolroom, a trip to the circus, and a tragic mining disaster. Part fable and part moral critique, Hard Times is an ideal introduction to serialised fiction, and each instalment will be delivered to your inbox on the anniversary of the day Victorian readers first set eyes on it in the pages of Household Words.
Dickens’s Hard Times is now finished. Look out for more Dickens titles in the future.