Wisbech & Fenland Museum

Great Expectations was first published in the weekly journal All the Year Round and the opening instalment appeared on Saturday 1st December 1860.

Great Expectations tells the story of Pip a young orphan who lives with his older sister and her husband Joe, a blacksmith. Pip visits his parents’ graves on Christmas Eve night where he stumbles upon the escaped prisoner
Magwitch, who terrifies Pip into making good his escape.

Great Expectations in All the Year Round


Pip also encounters the disturbing spinster, Miss
Havisham, a wealthy woman tragically jilted on her wedding day which has permanently embittered her. But at Miss Havisham’s house Pip meets and falls deeply in love with the ‘irresistible’ Estella, her adopted daughter. Later, Pip is suddenly thrust into a new world where he is left a large amount of money by an anonymous benefactor. But, he soon learns that wealth is not all that he imagined it to be.

'A Rubber at Miss Havisham's' by Marcus Stone

Charles Dickens was brought up in poverty and was very critical of the class divisions of Victorian England. His novels often contain a ‘rags to riches’ theme. However, Dickens is cynical about the effect of money, as in the case of Great Expectations.

Dickens by Herbert Watkins, 1858