Penguin Classics e-books give you the best possible editions of Charles Dickens's novels, including all the original illustrations, useful and informative introductions, the definitive, accurate text as it was meant to be published, a chronology of Dickens's life and notes that fill in the background to the book. The work of a young novelist at the height of his powers, Nicholas Nickleby is one of the touchstones of the English comic novel. Around the central story of Nicholas Nickleby and the misfortunes of his family, Dickens created some of his most wonderful characters: the muddle-headed Mrs Nickleby, the gloriously theatrical Crummles, the slow-witted orphan Smike, the pretentious Mantalinis and the mindlessly cruel Squeers and his wife. The novel's loose, haphazard progress harks back to the picaresque novels of the 18th century, particularly those of Smollett and Fielding. Yet its exuberant atmosphere of romance, adventure and freedom is overshadowed by Dickens' awareness of social ills and financial and class insecurity.