Dickens at 200: 1812–2012
An exhibition in Special Collections
Pickwick & Publishing
Cliffhangers, Comics, & Magazines
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Containing a Faithful Account of the Fortunes, Misfortunes, Uprisings, Downfallings, and Complete Career of the Nickleby Family. Edited by “Boz”, With illustrations by “Phiz”. London, Chapman and Hall [1838–1839].
Although Dickens was not the first author to issue his novels in serial, his style and method of writing were well–suited to the form. Instead of producing a complete novel and subsequently issuing it in multiple volumes, Dickens did not keep much further ahead of the next installment, writing quickly and revising minimally. He intentionally constructed most issues with cliffhangers to increase demand for the next chapters and create a general sense of excitement for their release.
“A Tale of Two Cities,” Classics Illustrated (No. 6). William A. Oliver, Jr. collection related to The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
In 1941, publisher Albert Lewis Kanter founded the Classics Illustrated line of comic books to introduce young people to classic literature, with the hope that they would read the original works. This suggestion was often ignored by comic fans and shortcut–seeking students, who purchased over 200 million issues in the publication’s pre–1962 heyday.
“Address in the First Number of “Household Words’: A Preliminary Word” from March 30, 1850. Reproduced in: Miscellaneous papers from ‘The Morning Chronicle,’ ‘The Daily News,’ ‘The Examiner,’ ‘Household Words,’ ‘All the Year Round,’ etc. and plays and poems. London: Chapman & Hall; New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, [1898?].
Dickens began the weekly magazine Household Words in 1850, publishing both fiction and socially relevant non–fiction. Although most of the short pieces were unattributed, many were submitted by Dickens himself and his writing friends, such as Wilkie Collins and Adelaide Anne Procter. He serialized his own Hard Times in the publication, as well as novels by others, including Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford and North and South. Although Dickens owned half of the magazine and his agents another quarter, conflicts with the publisher led him to abandon it and begin a new journal, All the Year Round, in its place.
Autograph letter to Frederic C. Penfield Esq., March 23, 1889.
This note appears on the letterhead for “All the Year Round, A Weekly Journal Conducted by Charles Dickens.” The younger Dickens began working at All the Year Round in 1869, taking over ownership and full editing responsibilities upon his father’s death in 1870. The magazine ceased publication in 1895.
Dickens for Sale
Throughout the exhibit you will find all manner of Dickens imprints. These include: serial installments, full–length publications of varying edition, cheap paperbound copies with no illustrations, hardcover copies with the original illustrations, British printings, American printings, sets, and any number of custom bound volumes made to serve the interests of specific owners. The materials in this case provide a glimpse into the wide range of options facing a customer who might wish to purchase a set of Dickens’s works. Used by the publisher’s itinerant salesmen, these booksellers’ dummies provided samples of text, illustrations, paper quality, binding, and bonus content, such as F.G. Kitton’s The Life of Charles Dickens. Several of the specimens include a detailed prospectus of the set and sign–up sheets for subscribers at the back. The London Edition sample book even includes tips for the salesman on which features to emphasize.
The London Edition of Dickens’s Novels. Including a New Life of Dickens by F. G. Kitton. London: Caxton Publishing Company, Limited., [1910?].
Sample copy for bookselling
The London Edition of Dickens’s Novels: Including a New Life of Dickens [London: The Caxton Publishing Co., 19--?].
Sample copy for bookselling
Charles Dickens: Some Notes on His Life and Writings With eight portraits, thirty–seven illustrations and facsimiles of his handwriting and autographs. London: Chapman and Hall, .
The Pickwick Papers
The work which became The Pickwick Papers was first proposed by illustrator Robert Seymour as a series of engravings based on the adventures of a sporting club, accompanied by short humorous texts. Seymour committed suicide shortly into the project. R.W. Buss briefly took over his role, but was soon replaced by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz). As the author, Dickens had already pushed to have the illustrations subordinate to the text. With the changes in illustrator, he mostly abandoned the sporting theme and crafted the work into a more cohesive serial novel. Circulation boomed after Dickens brought in the character, Sam Weller, a wisely humorous, but devoted, servant for Mr. Samuel Pickwick. The project was immensely successful, launching Dickens to a new level of popularity
“Mr. Pickwick Addresses the Club” plate. Piccadilly Fountain Press.
The Piccadilly Fountain Press beg to announce that they will start the publication of the Lombard Street edition of the novels of Charles Dickens: by the issue on October 15 of Pickwick: Part I (to be completed in 20 fortnightly parts). [London]: The Piccadilly Fountain Press, .
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. With forty–three illustrations, by R. Seymour and Phiz. London: Chapman and Hall, 1837.
Illustration by Phiz of Sam Weller’s first appearance.
The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote. From the Spanish of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, by T. Smollett. To which is prefixed a memoir of the author, by Thomas Roscoe. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. London, E. Wilson, 1833.
Several scholars have likened the relationship between Mr. Pickwick and his servant Sam Weller to that between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
The Pic Nic Papers. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1841.
Leveraging the name of his recent success, Dickens organized this anthology and submitted the short work, “The Lamplighter’s Story,” to benefit the widow of publisher John Macrone.
Master Humphrey’s Clock. New York: G. Munro’s Sons, 1894.
Originally published in 1840–1841, Mr. Humphrey’s Clock was a periodical which featured short stories and the serialized novels The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. Mr. Pickwick is one of Mr. Humphrey’s friends and appears in his stories.
Mr. Pickwick’s Kent [As Described in Charles Dickens’ “Pickwick Papers”]. A Photographic Record of the Tour of the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club in Rochester, Chatham, Dingley Dell, Cobham and Gravesend. With Descriptive Letterpress by H. Hall. Rochester: W. & J. Mackay & Co, 1899. William A. Oliver, Jr. collection related to The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
“The Leather Bottle Inn.” London Rambles “en zigzag” with Charles Dickens. London: S. Drewett, [1886?].
Kyd’s Pickwick Playing Cards: A Series of Fifty Five Original Designs ... in Which Are Introduced All the Principal & Many of the Minor Characters Figuring in the Great Humorous Classic. London: Navarre Society, 1982. William A. Oliver, Jr. collection related to The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Kyd produced the pen, ink, and watercolor drawings for this set of playing cards in 1931. Sold via London book dealer Chas J. Sawyer, the artwork came up for auction in 1981 and the new owner allowed the set to be commercially reproduced.
Oliver Twist. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1839.
First and Early American Editions of the Works of Charles Dickens. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1910.