Oliver Twist (character)

Oliver Twist is the title character and protagonist of the 1838 novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.[1] He was the first child protagonist in an English novel.[2]

Oliver Twist
"Please, sir, I want some more."
Illustration by George Cruikshank.
Created byCharles Dickens
Portrayed byJackie Coogan (1922)
Dickie Moore (1933)
John Howard Davies (1948)
Bruce Prochnik (1962)
Mark Lester (1968)
Richard Charles (1982)
Ben Rodska (1985)
Jon Lee (1994)
Tom Fletcher (1994)
Steven Webb (1995)
Alex Trench (1997)
Sam Smith (1999)
Joshua Close (2002)
George Shields (2003)
Justin Pereira (2003-2004)
Barney Clark (2005)
Joseph McManners (2005)
William Miller (2007)
Harry Stott
Gwion Jones
Laurence Jeffcoate (2009)
Noah McCullough (2010)
Leonardo Dickens (2016)
Raff Law (2021)
Hal Cumpston (2023)
Voiced byGary Marsh (1972)
Joey Lawrence (1988)
In-universe information
TitleMister Oliver Twist
FamilyAgnes Fleming (mother, deceased)
Edwin Leeford (father, deceased)
Mr Brownlow (adoptive father)
Edward "Monks" Leeford (half-brother, deceased)
RelativesRose Maylie (maternal aunt)
Captain Fleming (maternal grandfather, deceased)
Harry Maylie (maternal uncle by marriage)
Mrs. Leeford (step-mother, deceased)



The orphan, young Oliver is born in a parish workhouse in an unnamed town.[3] His unmarried mother dies during labour.[4] Old Sally, who was present at the birth, takes from the dying woman a locket and ring. Mr Bumble, the Beadle, names the boy Oliver Twist. Oliver is sent to an orphanage, run by Mrs Mann, until he is nine years old, when he is returned to the workhouse.

The orphans at the workhouse are starving because of their cruel treatment. They cast lots to decide who will ask for more gruel for them all, and Oliver is chosen. At evening supper, once the gruel is dished out and eaten, Oliver goes to the master and famously says, "Please Sir. I want some more". He is then branded a troublemaker and offered as an apprentice to anyone willing to take him, and he is eventually apprenticed to Sowerberry, the undertaker. Oliver fights with Noah Claypole, an older boy at the undertakers, because Noah mocked Oliver's dead mother. Oliver is then beaten for the offence, but he manages to escape and runs away to London.

In London, Oliver meets Jack Dawkins, the Artful Dodger, who offers him a place to stay, where he meets up with Fagin and his band of young thieves. Oliver innocently goes "to work" with Dawkins and Charley Bates, but sees the real nature of their "work" when Dawkins picks the pocket of a gentleman. When the gentleman, Mr Brownlow, realises he is being robbed, Oliver is mistaken for the pickpocket and is then chased, captured and taken to the police. Oliver, who was injured in the chase, is cleared by a witness to the crime and is taken in by Brownlow to his home where he is well treated. After recovering from his injuries, Oliver is sent on an errand by Brownlow to pay a local merchant £5 and to return some books. However, Oliver is caught by Nancy and Bill Sikes, who pretend to be his siblings, and is returned to Fagin's den. However, Nancy later betrays Fagin and Sikes, as well as herself, for doing so since they have stolen Oliver's chance to have a better life.

Mr Brownlow, who mistakenly thinks that Oliver has run away with the money, assumes that Oliver was a thief all along. This belief is further strengthened when Bumble, in response to Brownlow's newspaper advertisement for information about Oliver, gives a disparaging opinion of the boy. Despite this, Brownlow still holds onto a little bit of hope that this might not be true.

Meanwhile, Oliver is forced by Fagin to join Sikes in an attempted robbery at a rural house, as they need a small boy to enter a window and open the front door for Sikes to get in. However, the robbery fails and, in the ensuing chase, Oliver is shot. He is then nursed back to health at the home of the Maylies, the house Sikes was attempting to burgle. Oliver gives his story to the widow Mrs Maylie, her son Harry and her adoptive daughter Rose, and Doctor Losberne. He also helps out when Rose falls ill, casually meeting a mysterious man along the way.

The mysterious man is Monks, who is revealed to be Oliver's half brother (his true name being Edward Leeford). He joins Fagin in an attempt to recapture Oliver and lead him into a life of crime, so that Oliver's rightful inheritance, of which Oliver knows nothing, would then go to Monks. Nancy, who still feels compassion for Oliver, overhears Fagin's and Monk's plans and tells Rose Maylie, hoping to thwart them. Rose then contacts Brownlow (clearing Oliver's name in the process, much to Brownlow's relief), Dr Losberne and other people, to help her protect Oliver.

Meanwhile, Bumble has married the matron of the workhouse, Mrs Corney. The former Mrs Corney had been in attendance at Old Sally's death, and purloined the locket and ring Old Sally had taken from Oliver's mother Agnes on her deathbed. Monks buys these items from the Bumbles and throws them into the River Thames, hoping that, by destroying them, Oliver's true identity will remain hidden.

Brownlow and Rose Maylie meet Nancy on London Bridge and she tells them how to find Monks. However, Fagin has had Nancy followed and, believing Nancy has revealed his secrets, Fagin tells Sikes that Nancy has betrayed them. Sikes brutally murders Nancy, then flees London to the country. Their neighbours and some of Fagin's own band members soon find out about Nancy's death and, enraged, they tell the police; Sikes falls to his death when he is about to be captured.

Oliver is revealed to be the illegitimate son of a rich man named Edwin Leeford and his young mistress, a girl named Agnes Fleming. Leeford had also fathered another son, Edward ("Monks"), through a failed former marriage. After seducing Agnes, Leeford died, leaving a will which stated that the unborn child would inherit his estate if "in his minority he should never have stained his name with any public act of dishonour, meanness, cowardice, or wrong" in the event of which all would go to Monks. Monks is given half of Oliver's inheritance in cash by Brownlow—who had been Edwin Leeford's best friend and the keeper of his secrets—in the hope that he would start a new life. Monks flees to the United States, where he quickly squanders the money and dies in prison.

Rose Maylie is revealed to be Agnes Fleming's younger sister, who was adopted by the Maylies after her parents died. Therefore, Rose is Oliver's aunt and is able to marry Harry Maylie. Oliver collects his inheritance and is adopted by Brownlow.

In other media


Disney adaptations

  • In Disney's 1988 animated film Oliver & Company, Oliver is portrayed as a ginger orange Tabby kitten who wants a home and lives in New York City instead of London. He joins Fagin's gang of dogs before being taken in and adopted by a wealthy girl named Jenny Foxworth. He is voiced by Joey Lawrence.
  • Disney's live-action television film, Oliver Twist was released in 1997. Oliver was played by Alex Trench.
  • In October 2016, the studio announced a feature-length live-action musical film adaptation of the story. Ice Cube is set to star as Fagin and will co-write with Jeff Kwatinetz. The two will serve as co-producers, with Marc Platt. Thomas Kail will direct.[5]



In the 2015 TV series, Dickensian, we meet Oliver in three instances of his circumstantial life. He is a minor character in the last two episodes, first appearing in episode 19, asking Mr Bumble "Please, sir, may I have more," during a meal staged for the overseers of the work house, a ploy of Mr and Mrs Bumble for promotion. Considered impolite and an embarrassment, he is put out onto the streets of London. In the last episode, we see him forlorn and destitute on the street, until he meets up with the Artful Dodger and is taken in to Fagin's den of thieves. It is the last scene of the last episode.


  1. ^ "Nicholas Blincoe on whether Oliver Twist was based on story of real-life orphan, Robert Blincoe". the Guardian. 28 September 2005. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  2. ^ The full title was "Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy's Progress." Ackroyd, Peter (January 1991). Dickens. Harpercollins. pp. 216–217. ISBN 978-0-06-016602-1.
  3. ^ ... a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name ...", Chapter 1 However, when originally published in Bentley's Miscellany in 1837 the town was called Mudfog
  4. ^ Dickens, Charles (1738). Oliver Twist. University of Virginia Library. pp. 4. ISBN 978-0-06-016602-1.
  5. ^ "Disney Is Making An Oliver Twist Musical, With Ice Cube In A Major Role". 26 October 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2018.