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For all of her twenty-two years, Amy Dorrit has lived in Marshalsea prison, trapped there with her family because of her father's debts. When Mrs Clennam's son Arthur returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kind-hearted interest in poor little Amy.
Charles Dickens was born in Landport in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812. Sent to work in a blacking factory at the age of twelve, after his Navy Pay Office clerk father was imprisoned for debt, Dickens's memories of this unhappy period haunted him throughout his life and influenced much of his writing. After stints as a clerk and a shorthand reporter in the law courts, Dickens became a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle until the huge success of his first books enabled him to become a full-time author. Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his last novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished. Peter Ackroyd's biography of Charles Dickens was published in 1990 to enormous critical acclaim. He has also written another major biography, T.S. Eliot, which was awarded the 1984 Whitbread Prize and was joint winner of the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award. Peter Ackroyd's novels include The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde, Milton in America, Chatterton, The Clerkenwell Tales and The Fall of Troy and his non-fiction works include Ezra Pound and his World, Chaucer and London: The Biography, among others. His most recent biography is Poe: A Life Cut Short.