Researchers at the British Library have discovered a previously uncatalogued manuscript of a novel by the 19th century author Charles Dickens. The 450-page manuscript, entitled The Little Nation of Shoppekeepers came to light during the library's long overdue alphabeticization programme.
Literary scholars are hailing its discovery as the most significant contribution to British cultural heritage for decades. Along with many economic historians, they now expect the early 21st century to be known as 'the new Dickensian Era'.
'Until now, Dickens was simply regarded as an 'eyewitness' source to 19th century London chav life by historians, and dismissed as 'merely a novelist' by the BBC Costume Drama department. But, we are now seeing history unfold before our eyes', stated the project's lead researcher, Dr Bart Lionel.
Set amongst the relentless grind of the green-paper mills of Westminster, where youthful energy and ideals could be bought and sold on a whim, the story tells of the adventures of the plucky young David Cammerfield, as he makes his way in his slowly shrinking world.
Having just told Murkle, the cruel governess of the EU workhouse that he no longer 'wants more' of her austerity gruel, young Davey must then return to one of his own homes.
Almost waylayed by the Greek and Italian swindlers and chancers destined for the Hulks and Brusselsea prison, he arrives back in Westminster to find his Old Curiously Conservative Party in some disarray.
'All the familiar Dickensian characters are there', explains Dr Lionel. 'Ransom and Smirk - the bumbling and conniving bankers, counting their grotesque bonuses on the fingers of hands cut off from orphans. Berluscozy, the two-headed serial procurer makes an appearance. And the Baroness Madwitch's razor gangs, forever being whipped along by the 'Invisible Hand of the Market Place' are never far away.'
Realising that his 'artful dodging' of the Pooh from the East cannot last forever, young Cammerfield slowly admits to himself that real work has always been beyond his capability, and he eventually realises that he now regrets having mortgaged his future to his "ever so 'umble" servant, Cleggsby, who has become increasingly unreliable and seems to have forgotten his place.
"But, I won't say how it finishes", says Dr Lionel. "That would spoil things. Especially for poor old Cleggsby."
Sources close to the Cabinet have stated that they are delighted with the library's find.
'Cataloguing the library's holdings was the first step in a much wider 'whole-of-government' approach to selling off the nation's hope and future. To have stumbled upon a vision of the future in a research library, and in the work of such an iconic British intellectual, is both a 'patriotic delight', and a bit of a bonus really.
It makes our jobs so much easier, just as we start preparing people for an authentic Dickensian future.'
'But, yes. Poor old Cleggsby', he added.