a novel (1839) by Charles Dickens. Nicholas Nickleby is a young man who has to make enough money to support his mother and sister after his father dies. He first goes to work as a teacher at Dotheboys Hall, a school run by the evil Wackford Squeers. Nicholas is shocked by the conditions there, and by their cruel treatment of a poor boy called Smike. Nicholas and Smike escape from the school together and later work in a theatre company run by Vincent Crummles. There are many other linked stories in the novel, but its main importance is that it showed Victorian society how terrible conditions in many of its schools were, and in fact led to a lot of them being closed or improved.