Nicholas Nickleby is Charles Dickens' third published novel. Like many of Dickens' works, the novel has a contemporary setting. Much of the action takes place in London, with several chapters taking place in Dickens' birthplace of Portsmouth, as well as settings in Yorkshire and Devon. The tone of the work is that of ironic social satire, with Dickens taking aim at what he perceives to be social injustices. Many memorable characters are introduced, including Nicholas' malevolent Uncle Ralph, and the villainous Wackford Squeers, who operates an abusive all-boys boarding school at which Nicholas temporarily serves as a tutor. Hoping to provide support for his mother and sister after the death of his father Nicholas turns to his uncle Ralph for assistance. Ralph wants nothing to do with his late brother's family and feigns to help Nicholas by securing a position as assistant master at the Dotheboys Hall school in Yorkshire run by unscrupulous Squeers. The novel has been highly praised by critics and Peter Ackroyd, in his biography Dickens, says that Nicholas Nickleby is "perhaps the funniest novel in the English language." It has been adapted for stage - and for film or TV at least seven times.
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