As we said earlier, Charles Dickens’s father was imprisoned for debt. Whole families were confined in London’s notorious debtors’ prisons; babies were born there and old people died there. We have often thought the concept of debtors’ prisons illogical, given that confining someone makes it even harder for debtors to earn a living; but the theory was that their friends and relations would club together to pay the debts and spring their dear ones from jail.