Queen Victoria became Queen of England in 1837. Although Oliver Twist was first published in 1838, just one year into Queen Victoria's reign, the book would likely have been inspired by and written during the conditions in England before the Victorian era. The era before the Victorian era is know as the Georgian era, so named because England, from 1714 to 1830, was ruled by four successive kings named George. Thus, while Oliver Twist was published at the beginning of the Victorian era, it is based in and influenced by a Georgian-era London.
In the final years of the Georgian era, England was transformed by the Industrial Revolution. New machines were invented that could perform tasks more quickly and more efficiently than people could. One such machine was the Spinning Jenny. This machine could spin eighty spindles of cotton at the same time. Many workers lost their jobs because of machines like this, which meant that more people were now looking for fewer jobs, which in turn meant that employers could offer lower wages. The consequences of this Industrial Revolution were thus increased unemployment, worse working conditions, and more abject poverty. It is against this background that the story of Oliver Twist is set.