Dear Mr. Dickens

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Industrial Age

Dear Mr. Dickens
Author: Churnin, Nancy
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Time Period: Industrial Age
Time Frame: 1812-1870
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Great Britain
Topics: Charles Dickens, antisemitism
Genre: Non Fiction
Reading Age: Lower Elementary, Middle Grade
Format: Picture Book
Published: 2021

World History > Industrial Age > Charles Dickens

In Eliza Davis's day, Charles Dickens was the most celebrated living writer in England. But some of his books reflected a prejudice that was all too common at the time: prejudice against Jewish people. Eliza was Jewish, and her heart hurt to see a Jewish character in Oliver Twist portrayed as ugly and selfish. She wanted to speak out about how unfair that was, even if it meant speaking out against the great man himself. So she wrote a letter to Charles Dickens. What happened next is history.

Emily's Review

Not only is this book absolutely gorgeous, but it is also informative and heartfelt as well. Despite my love for Charles Dickens, I knew that he was also antisemitic. So imagine my delight to discover this picture book and learn that a woman named Eliza helped Dickens to see the error of his ways.

Eliza was a contemporary of Dickens and a fan of his work. He was an influential person at that time - his writing made people change the way they saw the poor and downtrodden. But when she read Oliver Twist and saw his very antisemitic character, Fagin, she decided to use her words to tell him he was wrong. Knowing his great influence, she thought it was important to do what she could to help him see that his characterization of Jews was harmful.

I think the message in this story is an important one. When we see injustice in the world, it is up to us to find a way to correct it. Even something as small as writing a letter can make a difference!

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