There are, according to George Newlin’s Everyone in Dickens, “a total of 3,592 name usages, and nearly that many named characters” in Dickens’s works of fi ction. Of these 1,024 male and 137 female characters pursue an occupation or vocation.1 Given that the number of those in work comes to just over 30% of Dickens’s characters, it might seem an overstatement to claim, as Humphry House does in his classic study The Dickens World, that “Nearly everybody in Dickens has a job” and that “there is a passionate interest in what people do for a living and how they make do.”2 As House continues to note, however, what is most striking is the variety and detail of what Dickens’s people “do”:

The shopkeepers and land-ladies, who contribute so much to the atmosphere of close though honest business, have no monopoly of the working scene. Milliner, washerwoman, engineer, shipwright, glove-cleaner, barber, midwife, wet-nurse, waterman; actors, showmen, detectives, schoolmasters, are traced among the most surprising technical details.3