“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.
Dickens’ best-known work of historical fiction, with over 200 million copies sold, A Tale of Two Cities is regularly cited as the best-selling novel of all time. In 2003, the novel was ranked 63rd on the BBC’s The Big Read poll. The novel has been adapted for film, television, radio and the stage, and has continued to have an influence on popular culture. Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan’s screenplay for The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was inspired by the novel, with Nolan calling the depiction of Paris “one of the most harrowing portraits of a relatable, recognisable civilisation that completely folded to pieces”.