This is a Victorian theatrical adaptation of Dickens’s fourth Christmas Book, The Battle of Life (1846). It was penned by actor, playwright and stage-manager Edward Stirling (1809-94) and published by John Duncombe. Popular Victorian novels were frequently adapted for the stage, and Dickens’s works were no exception: many were dramatized before they had completed their serial runs. Stirling was one of Dickens’s most prolific adaptors in the first decade of his career, producing all of his early novels, and the Christmas Books, until The Battle of Life in 1847.
The Children’s Dickens was published by Henry Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton around the turn of the century and contains abridged retellings of Dickens’s novels. This illustration of the Artful Dodger on the front cover points to the way in which Dickens’s memorable characters captured the public imagination through a wealth of adaptations that reinterpreted his works for new generations of readers.