With an Introduction and Notes by Peter Preston, University of Nottingham. Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz) and George Cruickshank. 'The Old Curiosity Shop' (1840-41), with its combination of the sentimental, the grotesque and the socially concerned, and its story of pursuit and courage, which sets the downtrodden and the plucky against the malevolent and the villainous, was an immediate popular success. Little Nell quickly became one of Dickens' most celebrated characters, who so captured the imagination of his readers that while the novel was being serialised, many of them wrote to him about her fate. Dickens was conscious of the 'many friends' the novel had won for him, and ?the many hearts it turned to me when they were full of private sorrow', and it remains one of the most familiar and well-loved of his works. AUTHOR: When 'The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club', his first novel, was published, Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was just twenty-four. Published, like most of his books, in weekly instalments, it started him on a path to fame, wealth and international acclaim. Widely considered to be a literary genius second only to Shakespeare, Dickens' works, such as 'Great Expectations' and 'A Christmas Carol', remain as popular as ever.