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Plate Glass

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Authors Charles Dickens
W[illiam] H[enry] Wills
Genres Cross-genre i
Prose: Leading Article i
Prose: Report i
Prose: Short Fiction i
Subjects Architecture; Building; Housing; Property; Landlord and Tenant;
Literature; Writing; Authorship; Reading; Books; Poetry; Storytelling; Letter Writing
London (England)—Description and Travel
Manufacturing processes; Manufacturing; Factories; Factory Management; Industrial Waste
Myth; Legends; Epic Literature; Fables; Allegory; Folklore
Ships; Boats; Shipwrecks; Salvage; Merchant Marine; Sailors; Sailing; Submarines (Ships)
Other Details
Printed : 1/2/1851
Journal : Household Words
Volume : Volume II
Magazine : No. 45
Office Book Notes
Views : 903

Dickens probably wrote the following portions of 'Plate Glass': from 'Tracking our guide' to 'this country' (p. 434); from 'Having, by this time' to 'so radiant and so strong' (p. 434); from 'It was a sight' to 'dreamers in the world!' (p. 435); from 'The kitchen' to 'brought from the furnaces' (p. 436); from 'Thanking the courteous gentleman' (p. 437) to the conclusion.
Dickens may also have added substantially to the following sections: from the beginning to 'found out by accident?' (p. 433); from 'The first ingredient' to 'attempted to register' (p. 434); from 'Mr. Bossle expressed' (p. 434) to 'hall of furnaces' (p. 435); from 'This art is practised' to 'most gigantic of known Rubrics' (p. 437).
In addition, Dickens seems to have added touches throughout the article. For a discussion of the Dickens-Wills attributions, see note to 'Valentine's Day at the Post-Office.'
On 14 December 1850, Dickens wrote Wills as follows regarding their plans to visit the Thames Plate Glass Company: 'I forgot to tell you yesterday that Egg proposes to meet us at the Blackwall Railway at 3 on Monday [16 December] to go down (by appointment with the Proprietors) to those Plate Glass Works. He says the visit will occupy some three hours. Therefore our friend H. W. [Household Words] must improvise a city dinner afterwards. I shall be at the office on Monday, between 12 and 1.'
It seems likely that the opening of 'Plate Glass' and some of the details contained in the piece were suggested by 'A Day at a Flint-Glass Factory,' an article in Charles Knight's Penny Magazine, New Series (1841). Some of the technical descriptions in 'Plate Glass' follow the descriptions in the Penny Magazine, and the central feature of the introduction to 'Plate Glass' - the long quotation from Dr. Johnson - also forms the opening of the 'Flint-Glass Factory.' It seems reasonable to suppose that in the course of writing the article, Dickens or Wills consulted the Penny Magazine.

Harry Stone; © Bloomington and Indiana University Press, 1968. DJO gratefully acknowledges permission to reproduce this material.

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