This Norton Critical Edition, edited by the pioneer of Great Expectations scholarship, presents the most thorough textual edition of the novel (1861) available. The newly established text is based on all extant materials and is accompanied by several textual essays. "Backgrounds" provides readers with an understanding of Great Expectations's inception and internal chronology. A discussion of the public-reading version of the novel is also included. A wonderfully rich "Contexts" section collects thirteen pieces, centering on the novel’s major themes: the link between author and hero and, relatedly, Victorian notions of gentility, snobbishness, and social mobility; the often brutal training, at home and at school, of children born around 1800; and the central issues of crime and punishment. "Criticism" gathers twenty-two assessments of Great Expectations, both contemporary and modern, which offer a range of perspectives on Dickens and his novel.