Coram in literature

Illustration of Little Dorrit

It’s no accident that some of our best-known fictional children are those who are brought up without parents, in orphanages, children’s homes or workhouses.

As they make their own way in the world, their experiences create a gripping read – how will they deal with what life throws at them and what roads will they take?

Throughout our history, the story of Coram has inspired writers, novelists and poets alike. From Dickens’ Tattycoram to Lemn Sissay’s recent Superman was a Foundling, the experiences of Foundling pupils and care-experienced people continues to inspire today.

While writers have been inspired by, and continue to write about their experiences, their work has also served to remind us of the difficulties faced by those young people and how we can help them.  

As the former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo says:

“We can go back to Dickens […], he wrote a great deal about the poverty of people and children in particular in the streets of London. At some stage, whether it was Hogarth or whether it was Dickens, we changed. We decided that this was not a way that people should be.

“Writers and poets and artists and dramatists are there to remind us of these things. […] I think it’s important for me certainly that whenever I write a story, it is a cause in some sense and I’m quite sure Dickens felt that when he wrote Oliver Twist.”

Explore Coram and culture on the story of care timeline