Introductory Note

David Copperfield, Dickens’s own favourite among his novels, is the most popular with the mass of readers, with the single exception of The Pickwick Papers. It was published by Bradbury & Evans in monthly parts from May, 1849, to November, 1850, with illustrations by Phiz, and appeared in a complete form immediately afterwards. Its success in the part issue was disappointing, but it soon gained the great popularity that it has ever since maintained.

David Copperfield is known to embody many of the early experiences of its author, although it is not by any means an exact autobiography. Many of the characters were drawn from living originals known to Dickens. Micawber, for instance, is partly based upon his own father; Dora, the “child-wife” of David, represents Maria Beadnell, an early flame of the author; Mr. Creakle and Salem House reproduce a former school, Wellington House Academy, attended by Dickens, and its master, Mr. Jones; Mr. Mell had his original in Mr. Taylor, English master at Wellington House Academy; Clara Peggotty owed much to Mary Weller, a nurse of Dickens; Steerforth was an old companion in Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, by name George Stroughill; Miss Mowcher, Rosa Dartle, and others have also been identified with actual persons known to Dickens.

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