Hobsbaum begins with a brief discussion of Dickens's political reportage and his pamphleteering for prison reform, and describes the earliest works, including Dickens's first book, Sketches by Boz. In the main part of the book, the vels - early, middle, and late - are treated in equal detail. As they relate to Dickens's life and to the situation of contemporary England, Dombey and Son, the masterpiece Bleak House, and Hard Times are considered works of art. Little Dorrit, which many consider Dickens's finest creation, is a highlight of Hobsbaum's study. In dealing with the last works, he includes a unique perspective to the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.