Hard Times (version 3), Locked Out and On Strike

Read by Phil Benson

(4.8 stars; 38 reviews)

Hard Times was Dickens's shortest novel and the only one to be set in the industrial north of England. A fast moving story with a typical cast of larger than life characters, the novel is a vehicle for a humanist critique of both utilitarian education ('Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts', says Mr. Gradgrind in the opening paragraph) and the mutual antagonism between capital and the trade union. A humanist education system, it turns out, is Dickens's solution to the class struggle. Hard Times is set in the fictional Coketown and was partly inspired by a visit to Preston during the factory lockout that brought the town's industry to a standstill in 1853. This version is read as it appeared in 20 issues of Dickens's weekly Household Words from April to August 1854. It is followed by two earlier articles - Locked Out and On Strike - that describe Dickens' visit to Preston and do much to clarify his thinking on education and class conflict. - Summary by Phil Benson (11 hr 41 min)


1 April 1854 - Chapters 1-3 28:19 Read by Phil Benson
8 April 1854 - Chapters 4-5 30:11 Read by Phil Benson
15 April 1854 - Chapter 6 29:49 Read by Phil Benson
22 April 1854 - Chapters 7-8 28:43 Read by Phil Benson
29 April 1854 - Chapters 9-10 29:46 Read by Phil Benson
6 May 1854 - Chapters11-12 29:20 Read by Phil Benson
13 May 1854 - Chapters 13-14 28:39 Read by Phil Benson
20 May 1854 - Chapters 15-16 30:09 Read by Phil Benson
27 May 1854 - Chapter 17 29:24 Read by Phil Benson
3 June 1854 - Chapters 18-19 29:10 Read by Phil Benson
10 June 1854 - Chapters 20-21 34:24 Read by Phil Benson
17 June 1854 - Chapter 22 27:02 Read by Phil Benson
24 June 1854 - Chapter 23 28:25 Read by Phil Benson
1 July 1854 - Chapter 24 29:28 Read by Phil Benson
8 July 1854 - Chapters 25-26 29:02 Read by Phil Benson
15 July 1854 - Chapters 27-28 30:34 Read by Phil Benson
22 July 1854 - Chapters 29-30 34:00 Read by Phil Benson
29 July 1854 - Chapters 31-32 42:03 Read by Phil Benson
5 August 1854 - Chapters 33-34 42:50 Read by Phil Benson
12 August 1854 - Chapters 35-36 54:04 Read by Phil Benson
Locked Out 19:32 Read by Phil Benson
On Strike 36:48 Read by Phil Benson


Thank you to Phil Benson

(5 stars)

I must say I love reading Dickens, and this book was the same. It was shorter than the others I've read, but the story was just as intriguing! The ending wasn't exactly a happily ever after-this is Dickens, after all-but I think that it suits the story. Sometimes we need not good but not bad endings. I still liked the ending, mind you, and I'm not saying it was a bad ending. I'm just saying the ending wasn't the classic happily ever after. My eyes were definitely wetted by a few of the scenes. I love this book. It doesn't exactly have a perfect ending, but it does have a good one in that some of the characters receive wonderful character development and are very blessed by it. It is amazing! The reader, Mr Benson, did a phenomenal job! I tried to start this book on my own but couldn't get through the slow start, so I turned to Librivox. It did not disappoint. The voices were well done, understandable yet different, and they made the story far more compelling. A job well done, both to Dickens and Benson.

Fantastic reading

(5 stars)

First time I have heard this novel and was at 1st doubtful whether Dickens could write convincingly about the North of England. But this is a *brilliant* reading by Phil Benson, which brings to life the grimness of Victorian educational experiments and the underbelly of the Industrial Revolution.


(5 stars)

Wonderful reading! The characters really come to life, the different voices perfectly reflecting their personalities. I'll never forget the voice of Bounderby: "I am Josiah Bounderby of Coketown"!

Excellent reader

(5 stars)

Excellent reader. The different voices he used for the characters were most enjoyable. Thought provoking book.


(5 stars)

I really enjoyed this reading of Hard Times. just an excellent listen.

the tough life of people deprived of basis human rights

(4 stars)

beautifully read

(5 stars)

Very well read. Good characterisations. Really enjoyed this version.

needs more gay sex

(5 stars)

None of the characters were engaged in gay sex. Any story that does not explicitly include gay sex is homophobic. The author must be the governor of Florida or something. Seriously this story is every bit as offensive as Mr Potatoe Head.