Little Dorrit is a serial novel by Charles Dickens published originally between 1855 and 1857. It is a work of satire on the shortcomings of the government and society of the period.
Much of Dickens’ ire is focused upon the institutions of debtors’ prisons—in which people who owed money were imprisoned, unable to work, until they have repaid their debts. The representative prison in this case is the Marshalsea where the author’s own father had been imprisoned.
Little Dorrit was published in 19 monthly instalments, each comprising 32 pages and featuring two illustrations by Phiz. Each instalment cost a shilling, with the exception of the last, a double issue which cost two shillings.
Little Dorrit has been adapted for the screen five times. The first three were produced in 1913, 1920 and 1934. The 1934 German-language adaptation, Klein Dorrit, starred Anny Ondra as Little Dorrit and Mathias Wieman as Arthur Clennam. It was directed by Karel Lamač. The fourth, in 1988, is Little Dorrit, a UK feature film starring Alec Guinness and Derek Jacobi amongst a large cast of over 300 British actors directed by Christine Edzard.
The fifth adaptation is a TV series co-produced by the BBC and WGBH Boston, Little Dorrit, written by Andrew Davies, and featuring Claire Foy, Freema Agyeman, Bill Paterson, Andy Serkis, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Judy Parfitt, Russell Tovey, Janine Duvitski, James Fleet, Ruth Jones, Eve Myles, Mackenzie Crook, Stephane Cornicard, Anton Lesser, Alun Armstrong, Sue Johnston, Emma Pierson and Amanda Redman. The series aired between October and December 2008 in the U.K. It then aired in America on PBS’s Masterpiece in April 2009. The series was broadcast in Australia, on ABC1 TV, in June and July 2010.