.0000000000Hard Times is perhaps the archetypal Dickens novel, full as it is with family difficulties, estrangement, rotten values and unhappiness. It was published in 1854 and it is the story of the family of Thomas Gradgrind, and occurs in the imaginary Coketown, an industrial city inspired by Preston. Gradgrind is a man obsessed with misguided 'Utilitarian' values that make him trust facts, statistics and practicality more than emotion and is based upon James Mill (the Utilitarian leader). He directs his own children, Louisa and Tom, in this same way: enforcing an artless existence upon them. Contemporary critics such as Macaulay savaged the book for its supposed 'sullen socialism' but it has become well thought-of since the favour of George Bernard Shaw.Illustrated by Harry French, with an Afterword by David Stuart Davies.