Experts studying the original manuscript for Charles Dickens' classic novel Hard Times have made an extraordinary discovery hidden beneath the fading ink. Paper in the nineteenth century was an expensive commodity and even writers of Dickens' standing would frequently reuse old manuscripts. Now a team at Cambridge have developed a new x-ray technique which allows them to decipher the original content of the pages, and it has revealed some interesting information about one of the author's more divisive works.
Hard Times is one of Dickens' shorter novels and deals with social and economic issues in an increasingly industrialised society, and the rise of materialism amongst the new factory-owning elite. But the team discovered an earlier draft of the novel which was significantly different. In this version, Hard Times is predominantly a children's book about a farmyard full of talking animals called Henry the Happy Pig, and the thorny issue of the indoctrination of children with utilitarian values hardly gets mentioned at all.