What time period is Great Expectations set in?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was first published serially in All the Year Round, a periodical Dickens edited, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861, and then appeared in book form in three volumes in October 1861. 

The novel covers a fairly long time period, with some past events events recounted by dialogue and exposition. The first event of the novel's timeline (which occurs before we are introduced to Pip at the novel's opening) is when Compeyson cheats Miss Havisham in 1792. Pip, Estella, Biddy and Herbert Pocket are all born in 1797.

The novel opens on Christmas Even in 1803 when Magwitch and Compeyson escape from jail and Pip encounters Magwitch in a churchyard. The narrative of the novel continues until 1832 when Pip is twenty-five years old. The final date of the narrative is 1860, when Pip writes his story. 

Thus the main events of the story occur in the Regency and Georgian periods, before the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. 

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Great Expectations

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