Little Dorrit is a novel by Charles Dickens, originally published in serial form between 1855 and 1857. The story features Amy Dorrit, youngest child of her family, born and raised in the Marshalsea prison for debtors in London. Arthur Clennam encounters her after returning home from a 20-year absence, ready to begin his life anew.
The novel satirises some shortcomings of both government and society, including the institution of debtors’ prisons, where debtors were imprisoned, unable to work and yet incarcerated until they had repaid their debts. The prison in this case is the Marshalsea, where Dickens’ own father had been imprisoned. Dickens is also critical of the impotent bureaucracy of the British government, in this novel in the form of the fictional “Circumlocution Office”. Dickens also satirises the stratification of society that results from the British class system.