The Lumber Room

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Serial novels

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For N.

Dickens and the Victorian Serial Novel and Great Expectations as a Victorian Serial Novel: By students of English 434: Nineteenth-Century English Novel at The University of Michigan-Dearborn. Includes a helpful How To Read a Victorian Novel :)

The nineteenth-century Victorian serial novel was a way for readers and writers to make a novel last years and be talked about endlessly like the daily soap opera of this century.

No time to be idle: the serial novel and popular imagination: Shawn Crawford. An authoritative essay, cited by the above.

In January 1841, passengers arriving in New York from Europe would be greeted by anxious people on the docks. They all had the same question: “Is Little Nell dead?”

[…] the conditions of Victorian England made serialization the primary mode of novel publication for fifty years. Everyone published serially, including George Eliot, who hated it, and Henry James, whose work hardly seems suitable […]

Of the 192 novels published serially in the Victorian Era (1836–1889) [..]

Dickens and Serial Publication: Joel J. Brattin.

Most of Dickens’ novels were serialized in 20 monthly installments […] always included precisely 32 pages of text, two engraved illustrations, and, usually, 16 pages of advertisements.

The death of Mary Hogarth, Dickens’ beloved sister-in-law, in May 1837 led him to miss the only professional writing deadline of his career.

(I presume that means it was the only one he missed!)

Other topics:
Dickens and His Readers: E. D. H. Johnson. On “Dickens’ dependence on public approbation”

All of Dickens’ novels made their first appearance in serial form. Nine came out in monthly installments: Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dombey and Son, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Our Mutual Friend, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Five were composed for weekly serialization: The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey’s Clock; Hard Times in Household Words; and A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in All the Year Round.

Dickens and the Classic Serial: Robert Giddings, presenting long paper on classic serials on BBC.

Dostoevsky and the English Novel: Dickens, John Cowper Powys and D. H. Lawrence

All Dickens’s novels had been translated into Russian by the time of Dostoevsky’s death in 1881. He was virtually an honorary Russian and to this day many Russian homes boast a complete set of his novels. Readers queued up for the latest serial instalment of them in Moscow just as they did in London and New York.

Also see:


Written by S

Wed, 2008-05-28 at 14:51:25

Posted in literature

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  1. Hi, I am currently doing a project for National History Day on Serialization. I have passed the regional competition and am now moving on to States. I hope to get to Nationals like last year. I was wondering if there are any more helpful sources available and if anyone could suggest people to interview. Interviews are what the judges look for, and they would really help me. Thank You!


    Fri, 2010-04-02 at 14:58:40

    • Hi!
      Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about this than what I googled one day (and wrote up here). So I’m afraid I can’t help you much… Still, the internet is sometimes a wonderful place, so who knows, someone else may come along and help you. :-)

      In any case, the best of luck to you on your project!


      Fri, 2010-04-02 at 21:19:59

  2. […] Dickens at 24 was writing his first novel The Pickwick Papers, which was being published serially like all novels of the era. Sales were chugging along decently for the first three months, until […]

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