Introduced by Hilary Mantel
Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz)
This chronicle of love and revolution by the master storyteller is part of the Dickens collection. Reproducing the Nonesuch text, this new edition is introduced by Hilary Mantel and includes original illustrations by Phiz.
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...’
Dickens's story of the French aristocrat Charles Darnay and dissolute barrister Sydney Carton, drawn together by the love of the same woman, reaches its memorable climax in the bloody cauldron of Paris during the Terror.
The book was first published in 1859, a time when revolution threatened many European countries and some feared that Britain might also succumb. Dickens was passionately alive to the social injustice that fed revolt but equally aware of how ideals soured as anarchy and violence spread. In A Tale of Two Cities Dickens evokes the early hopes and eventual horror of the French Revolution with unforgettable intensity, from Monsieur Mannette traumatised by long years of imprisonment in the Bastille to Madame Defarge, the incarnation of implacable vengeance. This novel also contains some of Dickens’s most chilling scenes and memorable lines.
‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.’
Dickens was a one-man powerhouse of creativity, yet despite his tours and editorial responsibilities, he wrote fifteen novels, three works of nonfiction and numerous shorter pieces: no wonder he should be called ‘the great inimitable’. From his pen flowed a seemingly inexhaustible series of characters that have enchanted generations of readers, whether we laugh at his comic creations or suffer alongside his heroes and heroines.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Landport, England. His family moved to London in 1816, and then to Chatham in 1817, where Dickens spent the happiest years of his childhood. They returned to London in 1822 and two years later Dickens’s father was imprisoned for debt and Dickens sent to work in a shoe-polish factory – a period that would influence much of his later writing.
In 1833 he began contributing stories and essays to newspapers and magazines. The Pickwick Papers was his first commercial success, and it was serialised in 1836. He went on to complete fourteen novels and became a celebrity in America as well as Britain. Dickens died in 1870; he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Hilary Mantel is an English author of memoirs, short stories and historical fiction. Educated at the London School of Economics and the University of Sheffield, she published her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, in 1985. The author of fourteen books, she is best known for her acclaimed Wolf Hall (2009) and its sequel Bring up the Bodies (2012), both of which won the Man Booker Prize. In 2006 Mantel was awarded a CBE and in 2014 a DBE for services to literature.
Hablot Knight Browne was a British artist and illustrator better known by his pen name Phiz. Born in London in 1815, he was apprenticed as an engraver from a young age, but in 1834 he turned his attention to etching and watercolour painting. He received his first commission from Charles Dickens in 1836, and went on to create etchings for ten of Dickens’s novels, notably The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield and Bleak House. In 2012 four of his illustrations were issued as stamps by the Royal Mail to mark the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s death. Browne died in 1882.
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