After a miserable childhood spent in the public workhouse,the lonely, starving orphan boy named Oliver Twist seemsdestined for a life of crime. He is locked up in theworkhouse when he is barely twelve after the parish officerin charge, Mr. Bumble, refuses to give him a second helpingof gruel. He flees from the house of Mr. Sowerberry (theundertaker who has taken Oliver in as his apprentice) afterSowerberry's assistant, Noah Claypole, makes life miserablefor Oliver. Upon reaching London, Oliver meets a strange boy about hisown age named Jack Dawkins AKA The Artful Dodger,who seemsmuch older than he. Oliver is taken in, literally andfiguratively, by a gang of thieves and house breakers whichis led by an old man named Fagin, an evil genius and mastercriminal. Oliver is sent out on a job with Charley Bates andtheDodger, but they run away, leaving Oliver holding thebag. Fortunately, a shopkeeper has witnessed the theft andOliver is released. Mr. Brownlow, the victim of the crime,is a kindly old gentleman who befriends Oliver and takeshimhome. Oliver eventually learns his true identity, gains afamily and an inheritance...Charles Dickens's father was a clerk, who moved his familyto London when Charles was ten years old. Two yearslater,young Charles had to leave school to support hisfamily. He read constantly and wandered around the poorworking-class districts and slum areas where the criminalshung out. These places and their inhabitants are vividlydescribed in the novel. Dickens became a newspaper reporterin 1832, after first returning to school. Four years laterhe published his first major novel, The Pickwick Papers.Oliver Twist appeared in 1838.