Hard Times is a novel by Charles Dickens, first published in 1854. The book is a state-of-the-nation novel, which aimed to highlight the social and economic pressures that some people were experiencing. Unlike other such writings at the time, the novel is unusual in that it is not set in London (as was also Dickens' usual wont), but in the fictitious Victorian industrial town of Coketown, often claimed to be based on Preston. It met a mixed response from a diverse range of critics, such as F.R. Leavis, George Bernard Shaw, and Thomas Macaulay, mainly focusing on Dickens' treatment of trade unions, coupled with post-Industrial Revolution pessimism regarding the divide between capitalistic mill owners and undervalued workers during the Victorian era of Britain.