London in Charles Dickens?s time was a city of great contrast. The affluent and middle classes enjoyed a comfortable existence but for the poor, life was cruel and harsh, the more so for girls and young women. Troubled by what he saw, in autumn 1847 Dickens established Urania Cottage in Shepherd?s Bush as a hostel for destitute young women. The residents came from prisons, workhouses and the streets of London, and included prostitutes, petty thieves and homeless teenagers. Urania Cottage was financed by the millionairess Angela Burdett Coutts of the banking family and details of the residents, its routines and its dramas are brought to life in the treasure-trove of letters written to her by Dickens. The aims of Urania Cottage were very simple ? to rehabilitate the residents and to prepare them for a normal life as domestic servants in Britain?s expanding Colonies ? Australia chiefly but some went to Canada and South Africa. Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women vividly portrays the lot of the poor in mid-nineteenth century London and some of the people who were moved to help. Whatever his motives, Charles Dickens was one of them. Jenny Hartley?s meticulous research has revealed the identities of many of the residents of Urania Cottage and how they fared later in life. The book is at once moving and dramatic ? life at the cottage didn?t always run smoothly ? and shows that with help, even the most deprived people can recover. Jenny Hartley is a professor in the School of Arts at Roehampton University. She edited the Virago anthology, Hearts Undefeated: Women's Writing of the Second World War (1994), and her book Reading Groups (Oxford University Press, 2001, revised as The Reading Groups Book 2002-2003 Edition), is the first study of reading groups in this country and elsewhere. Jenny has written for the Times Literary Supplement and The Independent, and broadcast for the BBC World Service and Radio 4 (Front Row and Woman?s Hour). She has appeared at conferences around the world, and at the Dartington, Cheltenham and Salisbury Literary Festivals.