Great Expectations follows the childhood and young adult years of Pip a blacksmith's apprentice in a country village. He suddenly comes into a large fortune (his great expectations) from a mysterious benefactor and moves to London where he enters high society. He thinks he knows where the money has come from but he turns out to be sadly mistaken. The story also follows Pip's dealings with Estella, a young woman he adores but who cannot return his love.
Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens in 1860 and 1861.
The mid-19th century was a time of great social change in Britain. There was increasing movement from the countryside to the towns, education was slowly improving and the legal system was being changed. The novel reflects such changes.