After the publication of Dombey and Son Dickens allowed some time to elapse before he began another novel. But his mind was turning towards interests that come to the fore in David Copperfield some while before he actually started work on it. In the first place, of course, he started an autobiography and quickly broke off-apparently unable to write about the traumatic experiences of his childhood and youth. Much of the autobiographical material is fed into Copperfield, and it does not always bear out Dickens's own hope that 'I have done it very ingeniously, and with a very complicated interweaving of fact and fiction'.1 There is, for example, a lacerating self-pity that strays from autobiography into novel, where it has no place. In a very famous passage of the autobiographical sketch, Dickens notes that:

It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me that, even after my descent into the poor little drudge I had been since we calile to London, no one had compassion enough on me - a child of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally - to suggest that something might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at any common school. ... No one made any sign. My father and mother were quite satisfied. They could hardly have been more so ifl had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar school, and going to Cambtidge.2