Sybil, or The Two Nations is one of the finest novels to depict the social problems of class-ridden Victorian England. The book's publication in 1845 created a sensation, for its immediacy and readability brought the plight of the working classes sharply to the attention of the reading public. The 'two nations' of the alternative title are the rich and poor, so disparate in their opportunities and living conditions, and so hostile to each other. that they seem almost to belong to different countries. The gulf between them is given a poignant focus by the central romantic plot concerning the love of Charles Egremont, a member of the landlord class, for Sybil, the poor daughter of a militant Chartist leader.
Nicholas Shrimpton is the editor of Trollope's The Prime Minister (2011) and The Warden (2014) for Oxford World's Classics. His most recent title for Oxford World's Classics is Trollope's An Autobiography (2016). He is currently completing an edition of Matthew Arnold's poetry and a book on Arnold's early poetry.