Page 78. " I heard that Miss Creakle was regarded by the school in general as being in love with Steerforth "
Fanny Squeers approaches Nicholas Nickleby
Public DomainFanny Squeers approaches Nicholas Nickleby

This echoes a plot detail in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839), in which Fanny Squeers, the daughter of the schoolmaster, falls unrequitedly in love with the protagonist.

Page 80. " I know him to have been an incapable brute, who had no more right to be possessed of the great trust he held "

Charles Dickens was a tireless crusader for the rights of children, and he campaigned for humane, quality education. He exposed the practises of some of the harshest schools through satire. Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839) was just one example.

According to Dickens’ descendent, Lucinda Hawksley, Dickens did much to effect practical change in the schooling system, and even managed to precipitate the closure of a number of schools in Yorkshire. 

Page 85. " amidst an uproar that might have made the Speaker of the House of Commons giddy. "

It is The Speaker's role to bring order to often loud and unruly debates between opposing politicans in the British Parliament's lower chamber. For the speaker to become giddy, the uproar would have to be especially fierce.


Page 89. " his mother lives on charity in an alms-house "

Alms houses provided charitable housing for the elderly poor. They were established in Britain in the 10th century. They still exist, albeit in altered form.


The Almshouse Association