Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, better known as The Pickwick Papers, is the first novel by Charles Dickens. It was originally an idea by Robert Seymour the illustrator, which Dickens was asked to contribute to as an up and coming writer following the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1832. Dickens, overconfident as ever, increasingly took over the unsuccessful monthly publication and Seymour committed suicide. With the introduction of Sam Weller the book became the first real publishing phenomenon, with bootleg copies, theatrical performances, Sam Weller joke books and other merchandise.
The novel has been filmed several times, including:
- 1913 - a silent short starring John Bunny as Pickwick and H. P. Owen as Sam Weller
- 1921 - The Adventures of Mr Pickwick, silent, starring Frederick Volpe and Hubert Woodward
- 1952 - starring James Hayter and Harry Fowler
The novel was published in 19 issues over 20 months; the last was double-length and cost two shillings. In bereavement for his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth , Dickens missed a deadline and consequently there was no number issued in May 1837. Numbers were typically issued on the last day of its given month, but I'm not nearly confident enough to use exact dates:
- I - March 1836 (chapters 1-2);
- II - April 1836 (chapters 3-5);
- III - May 1836 (chapters 6-8);
- IV - June 1836 (chapters 9-11);
- V - July 1836 (chapters 12-14);
- VI - August 1836 (chapters 15-17);
- VII - September 1836 (chapters 18-20);
- VIII - October 1836 (chapters 21-3);
- IX - November 1836 (chapters 24-6);
- X - December 1836 (chapters 27-8);
- XI - January 1837 (chapters 29-31);
- XII - February 1837 (chapters 32-3);
- XIII - March 1837 (chapters 34-6);
- XIV - April 1837 (chapters 37-9);
- XV - June 1837 (chapters 40-2);
- XVI - July 1837 (chapters 43-5);
- XVII - August 1837 (chapters 46-8);
- XVIII - September 1837 (chapters 49-51);
- XIX-XX - October 1837 (chapters 52-6).
It is interesting to keep the number divisions and dates in mind while reading the novel, especially in the early parts. The Pickwick Papers, as Charles Dickens' first novel, is particularly chaotic: the first two numbers featured four illustrations by Robert Seymour and 24 pages of text. Seymour killed himself and was replaced by R.W. Buss for the third number; the format was changed to feature two illustrations and 32 pages of text per issue. Buss didn't work out as an illustrator and was replaced by H.K. "Phiz" Browne for the fourth issue; Phiz continued to work for Dickens for 23 years (he last illustrated A Tale of Two Cities in 1859).
- The Pickwick Papers - HTML indexed, searchable version of the text.
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