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Volume I


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The importance of the establishment of Household Words in any account of Dickens’s career has, over the last half century, been afforded due recognition.[1] It is nevertheless worth emphasising briefly how the founding of the journal was the consummation of a desire to sit in the driver’s cab (as Dickens liked to see it) of a periodically issued publication that he had very probably harboured since his first steps in journalism, but which found expression in a variety of abortive projects in the late 1830s and early 1840s. As launch editor of Bentley’s Miscellany (1837-39) Dickens found himself working on a thoroughly sustainable literary monthly, but felt that his power to shape and adapt it to his artistic vision was limited by the publisher’s interference; as launch editor and sole contributor to the weekly Master Humphrey’s Clock, Dickens enjoyed this power to the utmost, but found himself unable or unwilling to share it in such a way as to make the labour sustainable. The infrastructure of the magazine and the whimsical concept of the multi-authored miscellany receded to little more than the packaging for the two serially-published novels that the Clock carried, The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) and Barnaby Rudge (1841).[2] After travels in America and Italy, and the issuing of a further serial novel in monthly parts (Martin Chuzzlewit, 1843-44), Dickens’s thoughts reverted strongly to the attractions of newspaper or magazine editing not only as a surer livelihood than novel-writing and a powerful way of maintaining emotional bonds with his readers, but also as a realisation of a genuine urge for some form of public service.[3] In this he was encouraged by his new publishers, the former printers Bradbury and Evans, who were already enjoying success as proprietors of the satirical weekly, Punch. We may be sure that table talk amongst Dickens and his circle during the mid 1840s canvassed many different possibilities; here is how one letter to his friend and literary adviser John Forster returns to the idea of a new weekly miscellany:


I would call it, sir, – / THE CRICKET / A cheerful creature that chirrups on the Hearth. / [Goldsmith’s] Natural History. / […] I would come out, sir, with a prospectus on the subject of the Cricket that should put everybody in a good temper, and make such a dash at people’s fenders and arm-chairs as hasn’t been made for many a long day. I could approach them in a different mode under this name […]. I would at once sit down upon their very hobs; and take a personal; and confidential position with them which should separate me, instantly, from all other periodicals […]. And I would chirp, chirp, chirp away in every number until I chirped it up to – well, you shall say how many hundred thousand![4]

The peremptory form of address – ‘I would call it, sir, the Cricket’/ ‘I would come out sir, with a prospectus’ – is perhaps adopted here because Dickens is already lining Forster up to be his Boswell, and has fallen unwittingly into Doctor Johnson’s style. Alternatively, or simultaneously, he is thinking of Johnson as a striking example of the eighteenth-century essayists whose work he had long admired, and whose persona-driven periodical projects still represented a kind of literary ideal, even if few had actually enjoyed the kind of longevity and sustainability in journalistic terms that Dickens and his advisers were seeking.[5] ‘My objection, incident more or less to every such scheme’, Forster later recorded in his biography, ‘was the risk of losing its general advantage by making it too specially dependent on individual characteristics.’[6] In other words, the success of ‘The Cricket’, had it ever chirped its way into the homes of thousands, would have been too bound up with Dickens’s voice, and only sustainable by him at huge expense of effort and ingenuity. The idea was prudently dropped.

In any event, that summer Dickens, together with Bradbury and Evans and a group of investors, found themselves swept up in the great adventure of the founding of the Daily News, a long awaited new daily newspaper in the Liberal interest, of which Dickens was to be ‘Literary’ (i.e. principal) Editor, on the princely salary of ₤2,000 a year. Prior to its first publication, Dickens proved a very able recruiter and organiser of newsgathering arrangements, and much more than a popular figurehead. As recent articles in The Dickensian have been suggesting, he was probably responsible for rather more miscellaneous and comic writing in the early days of the paper than has previously been realised, while, with his signed ‘Letters on Social Questions’ and ‘Travelling Letters Written on the Road’, he publicly set a tone of editorial intervention at once familiar and ‘gentlemanly.’[7] Yet his opening (and sole) leading article was as dignified and bland as the proposal for ‘The Cricket’ had been idiosyncratic and whimsical, representing – with little of the imaginative verve notable elsewhere in his figuring of the modern editor’s role – the birth of the paper as the commencement of a journey undertaken in company:


In the outset of such an undertaking as we commence to-day, it is perhaps excusable that […] we should devote a few words to ourselves and the course which lies before us. […] Entering on this adventure of a new daily journal in a spirit of honourable competition […] we seek […] at once to preserve our own self-respect and to be respected […] by our readers. Therefore we beg them to receive […] the assurance that no recognition or interchange of trade abuse, by us, shall be the destruction of either sentiment; and that we intended proceeding on our way, and theirs, without stooping to any such flowers by the road side. (21 January 1846, p. 4, col. a)


One quickly senses from Dickens’s letters of early 1846 no less than from the paper’s contents, the sorts of commercial and political constraints and influences under which he chafed, unable to feel himself truly in control of the paper’s management and direction. He officially stood down as editor after overseeing a mere seventeen daily numbers.[8]

            A writing staff of over a hundred was clearly too many to orchestrate; a writing staff of one, too few; with Bentley’s, Dickens had been unable to choose. During the late 1840s, Dickens had to content himself with anonymous contributions to The Examiner, then being edited by Forster, to whom he confided, even as he returned triumphantly to novel serialisation with Dombey and Son, his unchanged belief that ‘it would be a great thing to found something.’ Thus, in late 1849, with Dombey concluded, and the first five monthly numbers of David Copperfield in print, Dickens reported that he had finally ‘without a doubt, got the Periodical notion.’[9] His outlining of his ideas for the contents, as well as of a way of binding them all together conceptually, has rightly often been quoted – as Forster himself records, ‘hardly anything more characteristic survives him’ in point of fanciful embellishment – and, particularly for the reader of the first half-year volume of the resulting magazine, it is still required reading:

[M]y notion is a weekly journal, price either three-halfpence or twopence, matter in part original and in part selected, and always having, if possible, a little good poetry [...]. Upon the selected matter, I have particular notions. One is, that it should always be a subject. For example, a history of Piracy; in connection with which there is a vast deal of extraordinary, romantic, and almost unknown matter. A history of Knight-errantry, and the wild old notion of the Sangreal. A history of Savages, showing the singular respects in which all savages are like each other; and those in which civilised men, under circumstances of difficulty, soonest become like savages. A history of remarkable characters, good and bad, in history; to assist the reader's judgment in his observation of men, and in his estimates of the truth of many characters in fiction. All these things, and fifty others that I have already thought of, would be compilations; through the whole of which the general intellect and purpose of the paper should run, and in which there would be scarcely less interest than in the original matter. The original matter to be essays, reviews, letters, theatrical criticisms, &c &c, as amusing as possible, but all distinctly and boldly going to what in one's own view ought to be the spirit of the people and the time [...]. Now to bind all this together, and to get a character established as it were which any of the writers may maintain without difficulty, I want to suppose a certain SHADOW, which may go into any place, by sunlight, moonlight, starlight, firelight, candlelight, and be in all homes, and all nooks and corners, and be supposed to be cognisant of everything, and go everywhere, without the least difficulty. Which may be in the Theatre, the Palace, the House of Commons, the Prisons, the Unions, the Churches, on the Railroad, on the Sea, abroad and at home: a kind of semi-omniscient, omnipresent, intangible creature. I don't think it would do to call the paper THE SHADOW: but I want something tacked to that title, to express the notion of its being a cheerful, useful, and always welcome Shadow. I want to open the first number with this Shadow's account of himself and his family. I want to have all the correspondence addressed to him. I want him to issue his warnings from time to time, that he is going to fall on such and such a subject; or to expose such and such a piece of humbug; or that he may be expected shortly in such and such a place. I want the compiled part of the paper to express the idea of this Shadow's having been in libraries, and among the books referred to. I want him to loom as a fanciful thing all over London; and to get up a general notion of “What will the Shadow say about this, I wonder? What will the Shadow say about that? Is the Shadow here?” and so forth. Do you understand? [...] I have an enormous difficulty in expressing what I mean, in this stage of the business; but I think the importance of the idea is, that once stated on paper, there is no difficulty in keeping it up. That it presents an odd, unsubstantial, whimsical, new thing: a sort of previously unthought-of Power going about. That it will concentrate into one focus all that is done in the paper. That it sets up a creature which isn't the Spectator, and isn't Isaac Bickerstaff, and isn't anything of that kind: but in which people will be perfectly willing to believe, and which is just as mysterious and quaint enough to have a sort of charm for their imagination, while it will represent common-sense and humanity. I want to express in the title, and in the grasp of the idea to express also, that it is the Thing at everybody's elbow, and in everybody's footsteps. At the window, by the fire, in the street, in the house, from infancy to old age, everybody's inseparable companion [...]. Now do you make anything out of this? which I let off as if I were a bladder full of it, and you had punctured me.[10]

As Michael Slater has pointed out, three weeks later, Dickens is still familiarly referring to the new periodical as ‘The Shadow’ in correspondence with William Bradbury of Bradbury & Evans, so clearly something about the idea had struck root, even though neither this title nor the persona was to survive (overtly) in the finished product.[11] Recent critics have fruitfully explored ways in which, respectively, the ideas of memory, the past, and ‘deep character’ are subsequently evoked in the pages of the new periodical, in ways that can be clearly related to the kind of über-persona delineated in this remarkable prelude.[12] A blueprint for sustainability was also embodied (perhaps one should say, disembodied?) in ‘The Shadow’, a character ‘which any of the writers may maintain without difficulty’, concentrating ‘into one focus all that is done in the paper.’ Dickens’s projection here of different contributors collectively surrendering personality to take on the disguise of the nameless guiding spirit of the publication, is not difficult to construe as an imaginative rendering of the process of writing anonymously for a publication. Anonymity was to be a distinguishing feature of Dickens’s journals from their inception, and while a common enough feature of Victorian print culture at this time, their handling of it raises questions about the exercise of power, the communication of celebrity, and the tension between authorial and corporate identity in a particularly acute fashion.[13]

Even before the final name was settled on, Dickens took advice from his publishers and ‘thoroughly concur[red]’ with ‘reasons for the size and form’ of the new publication that William Bradbury put forward. Although Bradbury’s letter seems not to have survived, the periodical itself, in three different formats – as a 2d. weekly, sold as an uncut unstitched folding booklet; as a 9d. monthly with green/blue wrapper, containing four instalments and an increasingly substantial ‘Advertizer’ front and aft; as a 5s. 6d. bi-annual clothbound volume – remains as evidence of a deliberate hybridity of form, eloquent of an attempt to vertically integrate elements of the production and marketing, so as to maximise the publication’s reach across different groups of purchaser. As Lorna Huett has shown, in a ground-breaking essay on the significance of the physical format of Dickens’s journals, if one takes into account such further factors as paper size and quality,

a distinct ambiguity in the nature of Dickens’s periodicals emerges […]. In adopting the publishing and printing practices of the cheap educational magazines and the [penny] bloods, yet at the same time producing a journal which outwardly resembled the highbrow reviews, he deliberately trod a fine line between genres. The hybridity which characterised his journal’s contents was also the defining characteristic of its structure and thus of its identity as a publication.[14]

 The hunt for a suitably versatile title occupied Dickens’s thoughts in the New Year, in a stream of letters to Forster. In mid-January, and following Leigh Hunt’s practice of offering an explanatory quotation beneath his title, Dickens suggested ‘The Robin. With this motto from Goldsmith. The redbreast, celebrated for its affection to mankind, continues with us, the year round.[15] Then, before the month’s end came ‘Mankind’, and next, as if to explain the underlying correlation between this ambitious target for readership and the editor who would address them, ‘CHARLES DICKENS. A weekly journal designed for the instruction and entertainment of all classes of readers. CONDUCTED BY HIMSELF.’ When this too failed to convince his adviser, Dickens peppered him with multiple ideas:

[I]f there be anything wanting in the other name, […] this is very pretty, and just supplies it[:] THE HOUSEHOLD VOICE. I have thought of many others, as – THE HOUSEHOLD GUEST. THE HOUSEHOLD FACE. THE COMRADE. THE MICROSCOPE. THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE. THE LEVER. THE ROLLING YEARS. THE HOLLY TREE […]. EVERYTHING.[16]

While each carries in nucleus a theme detectable in the new journal as it unfolded over subsequent years, and the fertility of invention is remarkable, nevertheless the variety of ideas considered suggests a radical uncertainty as to the journal’s purpose or angle on its material. Further ideas were drafted at this time but not shared with Forster – ‘The Hearth’, ‘The Crucible’, ‘The Anvil of Time’, ‘Charles Dickens’s Own’, ‘Seasonable Leaves’, ‘Evergreen Leaves’, ‘Home’, ‘Home-Music’, ‘Change’, ‘Time and Tide’ ‘Twopence’ ‘English Bells’, ‘Weekly Bells’, ‘The Rocket’, ‘Good Humour’ – in a heterogeneous list faintly resembling that of Miss Flite’s birds in chapter XIV of Bleak House (1852-53). The idea of fire and energy running through a number of the suggestions is developed in another title, again fitted out with its own epigraph:




Thus at the glowing FORGE of Life our actions must be wrought,

Thus on the sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought. – Longfellow

Hitting at last on ‘HOUSEHOLD WORDS’[17] (2nd February?), ‘a very pretty name’ that pulled together earlier ideas about addressing familiarly all ages and classes of readers in their own homes, Dickens ensured that its Shakespearean epigraph (‘Familiar in their mouths as household words’) would also sound a combative and heroic note, recalling the famous ‘St Crispin’s Day’ speech in Act IV of Henry V, its ideal of valiant conduct and the few versus the many. It functions as a suitably ambivalent, if not polyvalent, title for a journal that had as yet, no fixed identity. Enough has been said to show that Dickens was brimming with imaginative hopes for what could be achieved with such a publication, but his notion of its precise contours was still understandably vague, as this outline, sent to a would-be contributor, of the kind of article that would be acceptable for submission, suggests: ‘It should be interesting, of course; if somewhat romantic, so much the better; we can’t be too wise, but we must be very agreeable.’[18]

Apart from a week-long jaunt to Paris with his old friend the artist Daniel Maclise and taking up residence at Broadstairs for the late summer and early Autumn (16 August – 23 October 1850), Dickens was living throughout the period of publication covered by this volume at 1 Devonshire Terrace, opposite the York Gate entrance to Regent’s Park. When in town, his new daily walk to the journal’s offices in Covent Garden, took him across three different parishes through streets strongly marked – if the autobiographical fragment in Forster’s Life is anything to go by – by childhood associations and his own uncertain beginnings in journalism. A lease had been taken on premises at No. 16 Wellington-street North, on the eastern side of a busy thoroughfare leading south onto the Strand:

 The old, original Household Words office was a graceful, highly-inviting, dainty little structure. It really seemed in keeping with the brilliant owner, and even with his genial, sympathetic character. […] It was but a miniature sort of building, but sufficed. Exceedingly pretty was the bowed front, the bow reaching up for one story, and a ground floor window, each giving a flood of light, quite necessary for literary work. It seemed more a residence suited, as the auctioneer would say, for ‘a bachelor of position.’[19]

 The front apartment of the first, or ‘“drawing-room” floor, where the master sat, was handsomely furnished’, according to the same observer, but other rooms were barer.[20] Bradbury & Evans’s offices on Bouverie Street, Whitefriars, were less than five minutes’ walk along Fleet Street to the east. All in all, it was a highly convenient set-up, and the living apartments on the upper floors proved a useful bivouac for Dickens whenever – as was increasingly the case as the decade wore on – it suited him to stay in town, and not return to the marital home. The offices also functioned as a counting-house and a shop, with sales made direct to the public on the ground floor.

It was from here, on Wednesday 27 March 1850, that the first number of Household Words was issued (dated Saturday 30th), inaugurating a weekly pattern of editorial duties that would last, without break, until Dickens’s death in June 1870. Friends and acquaintances, as usual, had personal perspectives on the promise of the early numbers. A good example is Henry Morley, a university-educated doctor who had written for the Examiner and who was just starting to contribute articles on sanitary matters to Household Words. Morley doubted strongly that ‘Dickens was the right man to edit a journal of literary mark […] he has not a sound literary taste.’ Part of Morley’s reservation concerned the writing style that he was asked to adopt, and the audience he was expected to entertain and educate:

Dickens’s journal does not seem my element […] the readers are an undiscriminating mass to whom I’m not accustomed to imagine myself speaking […]. [P]oetry I write for cultivated tastes; […] in the Examiner I speak to people who are clever, liberal-minded, and love wit. Household Words has an audience which I cannot write for naturally.[21]

It is to Morley’s credit, and Dickens’s as his mentor, that he broadened his outlook and adapted his style so as to become the most prolific contributor to Household Words bar none. Nevertheless, this perception of – not to say prejudice against – the new readership Dickens was trying to reach was something that commentators on the early issues were acutely aware of. In the Bradford Observer, for example, the Reverend J. H. Morgan pointed out that, with this new venture, Dickens ‘has extended the sphere of his operations, and from shilling parts and Chirstmas [sic] volumes, seeks to identify himself with the all-potent pence of the teeming millions.’ ‘Whether the effort will prove successful’, Morgan continued, in a useful reminder that success was not a foregone conclusion,

 time alone will tell: it is far from being a matter of course. Coming down however to the common battle-field of the pennies; forsaking the silver and cleaving to the copper, stepping out of the parlour, the drawing room, the boudoir and the club, to shake hands with miners and combers, with factory workers and ‘horny palmed’ artizans [...] at the same time encountering the shock of some scores of rude competitors, who have pre-occupied the field and enlisted the sympathy of the multitude, – this is another matter. [...] The first number is a good one, though not extraordinary.[22]

 Predictably friendly puffs, in the form of extracts from Dickens’s leading article in the first issue (‘A Preliminary Word’), were offered by The Daily News, The Morning Chronicle, and the Examiner[23] – but the sense that Dickens was taking something of a gamble, albeit from the best of motives, was widespread. As the Glasgow Herald put it, reprinting Leigh Hunt’s poem from the journal’s opening number, the ‘intention of the work is generous and philanthropic, and though it may not achieve as much good as its talented conductor would desire, it may do somewhat to foster more kindly feelings, and a higher morality than a great portion of society is currently actuated by.’[24] The Era gave a still more cautious welcome, worried about the tensions at work when a famous writer works anonymously with a team of fellow-writers:

 ‘Household Words’ is a suggestive, but an unsatisfactory title. There is an ambition about it […] and we hope Mr. Dickens will realize his hopes […]. He commands the sales of thousands of copies, and as the conductor of the print, is answerable for, and thought to approve all that he does not write in it. The samples we have seen are in his favour, but they show the magnitude of the undertaking. He is expected to influence and direct others in suiting the tastes of his readers. He will work hard, no doubt, and we hope he will find a liberal public, for great allowance must be made, and the field is pretty full of moral periodicals of an interesting character [...]. Criticism, however, would be premature just yet, and we shall watch with interest the [magazine’s] progress.[25]

Granted that part of Dickens’s general intentions for his new work involved, as he saw it, stealing readers from sensational and incendiary publications at the cheaper end of the market, he cannot have expected a warm welcome from every quarter. Such publications were ‘Bastards of the mountain […] Panders to the basest passions of the lowest natures’, which Household Words considered it would be ‘our highest service to displace’ (‘A Preliminary Word’, p. 2).[26] Unsurprisingly then, one of the papers that felt itself attacked, the recently-launched Reynolds’s Newspaper, made no bones about responding aggressively, with later editorial references to ‘this drivelling, fawning, lickspittle Dickens […] that lickspittle hanger-on to the skirts of Aristocracy’s robe […] originally a dinnerless penny-a-liner on the Morning Chronicle.[27] With sales of his first issue estimated at over 100,000 Dickens wrote to his wealthy Tory friend, Angel Burdett Coutts that ‘it is playing havoc with the villainous literature.’[28]

            In the same letter, Dickens predicts that Household Words ‘will become a good property […] and although the expences [sic] of such a venture are necessarily very great, the circulation much more than repays them.’ Fortunately, signed receipts showing the half-yearly division of profits from Household Words from its inception survive in the Philip H. and A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation Museum, and from these a table of income has been constructed.[29] This shows that the total profits distributed amongst the magazine’s four partners for its first six months of publication amounted to ₤526 5s. 2d., or around ₤37,990 in terms of today’s purchasing power.[30] Factoring in an estimate for start-up costs, as well as fixed and variable costs for the first semester, allows something like a total income figure to be projected, which in turn can be converted into an average number of copies sold weekly over the 26 weeks of the first half year: in this case, 34,500.[31] To put this in perspective: The Times, Britain’s most prominent stamped daily newspaper,[32] cost 7d. in 1850 and had a circulation of between 30,000 and 38,000. The weekly Examiner, also stamped, cost 6d. and its circulation was somewhere between 6,000 (1843) and 4,900 (1855). The up-market unstamped monthly, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, which also offered original fiction, cost 2s 6d., and had a circulation of merely 5,750 in the period 1847-49. One of Household Words’s nearest rivals, and the magazine it sought to emulate by providing original rather than selected/reprinted matter, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, cost 1½d. and had a stated circulation of 64,288 in 1849. A similarly ‘respectable’ contemporary with a more markedly Chartist orientation, Eliza Cook’s Journal, cost the same, and enjoyed a circulation of 50,000-60,000 in 1849. Reynolds’s Weekly Newspaper, also established in 1850, with a decidedly sensational, republican and diehard Chartist orientation, cost 4d. in 1850, with a stated circulation of 28,880.[33] Like Household Words, it would enjoy a rising circulation through the decade, while that of many other rival publications flat-lined or fell, but as new publications mushroomed after the abolition of the Stamp Duty in 1855, the battle for readers would become yet fiercer. Later volume introductions will continue to chart the performance of Dickens’s journals in this most public of arenas.

In the weeks immediately before the launch of Household Words, Dickens gave two public speeches, both, in different ways, indicative of concerns which were to find frequent expression in the new journal. The first was given on 6 February, in the form of a passionate seconding of a resolution concerning the deplorable number of deaths in London from preventable diseases, moved at the first meeting of the Metropolitan Sanitary Association. His riposte to those who advocated against improving the dwellings of the poor in London because the latter ‘liked to be dirty and to lead degraded lives’ is equally eloquent of his motivation for launching a cheap miscellany of entertaining and improving literature: ‘[t]he main wonder in connexion with the poor was that they did so soon esteem what was really for their good when they had any fair experience of it.’ The speech anticipates a series of oppositions – between rich and poor, town and country, sickness and health – which are clearly built into the structure of Bleak House, but which are no less present in the contrasts and transitions between articles in the new journal. The second speech took the form of a toast to the chairman of the General Theatrical Fund on 25 March, at a dinner held just two days before the first copies of Household Words went on sale. It shows a characteristic interest in the state of ‘the Drama’ in Britain, as being representative of what the new magazine would call – in articles already set up for printing – the ‘Amusements of the People.’[34] The sympathy Dickens expresses for the ‘very difficult and arduous career’ of those involved in theatrical enterprises, and admiration for their contribution to ‘the public enjoyment’, is echoed and amplified in numerous articles on theatrical subjects over the years.[35]

Leading Articles
All but one of the 26 weekly numbers comprising this first bi-annual volume of Household Words commenced with an article or editorial announcement that can broadly be considered as non-fiction.[36] Although the magazine needed to avoid reporting the news directly in order not to have to pay the stamp duty on newspapers levied by government, it liked to be topical and offer what would now be called feature writing: forms of investigative or cultural journalism that handled contemporary issues without necessarily focusing on recent occurrences. The exception was the first instalment of Harriet Martineau’s serial tale entitled ‘The Sickness and Health of the People of Bleaburn’ (p. 193 of this volume, etc.) which clearly offers itself as a ‘story’ – but which the reader may quickly sense is a fictionalised account, in this instance of the philanthropic work carried out by Boston reformer Mary Pickard Ware (1798-1849). In this respect, Household Words was, from its inception, displaying what would become a thoroughly distinctive feature of its house style, namely a willingness to blend if not transgress genre boundaries, in the interests of impact. The non-fiction leading articles, for their part, also made prominent use of what might typically be considered fictional strategies, in a manner anticipating twentieth-century definitions of ‘creative non-fiction’ and the so-called ‘New Journalism.’[37]

            There is no doubt that at this point public health and sanitary reform was the most pressing social issue covered by the journal. ‘I am extremely anxious to serve the cause’, Dickens wrote to Henry Austin, shortly before a meeting of the Metropolitan Sanitary Association, ‘and am doing it all the good I can by side-blows in the Household Words.’[38] Wills’s ‘The Troubled Water Question’ in No. 3 was the first of over twenty articles dealing with such matters in this first semester of publication (see p. 49). Yet the journal’s method of addressing it was not to be through repeating exposure in leading articles. Its plasticity of identity as a miscellany was given priority. In the make-up of the second issue, for example, Dickens noted a ‘want of Household tenderness’, and so supplied a leading article – ‘a little spiritual fantasy’ as Michael Slater calls it[39] – based on personal recollection of stargazing with his elder sister when a child. This gave way in No. 3 to an editorial opener about the monthly news summary that was about to be launched as a supplement to Household Words; next, despite informing Wills that he really couldn’t ‘promise to be comic’, and that getting ‘two comic articles […] out of me’ was ‘the extremist form of nogoism’, came ‘Some Account of An Extraordinary Traveller’ (leading article in No. 4; a humorous account of viewing Panorama displays in London), followed by two hard-hitting leaders dealing with national prison policy and the horrors of Smithfield cattle market.[40] The unpredictability of subject matter for leading articles was clearly a deliberate strategy.

Short fiction

What Dickens called ‘side-blows in the Household Words’ were, literally, indirect or unusually-angled attacks on a particular Social Evil, and for mid-century Britain there was none greater than prostitution. Again, it was a topic he had promised friends and activists he would tackle, while acknowledging (as he writes to Angela Burdett Coutts) that it was one ‘difficult to approach , in pages that are intended for readers of all classes and all ages of life.’[41] Nevertheless, through the storyline of the seduction and death of Little Emily which was then developing in David Copperfield, Dickens himself was ‘endeavouring to turn [his readers’] thoughts a little that way’, and in Household Words the medium was also to be fiction. Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Lizzie Leigh’, serialised prominently across the first three numbers, tells the story of a widow’s search in Manchester for her lost daughter, and the nature of their reunion, touching, in the process on alcoholism, adoption, and working class faith, as well as the sex trade. It was a bold, bleak, if ultimately highly melodramatic[42] performance on the part of both magazine and author, and one that early reviewers could hardly fail to single out. ‘The tale entitled “Lizzie Leigh” is evidently from a pen of which Manchester may be proud’, enthused the Manchester Times, while the Morning Chronicle found it a ‘sombre and melancholy story’ which the reviewer correctly guessed was by ‘the authoress of “Mary Barton.”’[43] On the other side of the Atlantic, guesses about authorship were not so accurate. In its very first issue, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine indexed the story as ‘by Charles Dickens’[44] – the first of a long series of misattributions to Dickens of work by his contributors in reprintings from his journals, owing to – some would say, encouraged by – the anonymity of the majority of the contents.[45]

Other memorable short stories in this first volume came from further afield: two, dealing with life for an emigrant in the Australian outback, were by Samuel Sidney, whose brother John had lived in New South Wales, and whose experiences informed the accounts (see ‘An Australian Ploughman’s Story’, p. 39 and ‘Two-Handed Dick the Stockman’, p. 141).[46] Readers of ‘A Bundle of Emigrants’ Letters’ – a paper jointly composed by Caroline Chisholm and Dickens in the opening number of the journal – would understand the veracity of such accounts through testing them against the samples of life-writing they had already encountered. Even when the repentant gambler in novelist Catherine Crowe’s more patently fictitious tale ‘Loaded Dice’ (p. 84) is summarily dispatched in the final paragraph, ‘a self-condemned exile, to Australia’, readers at least had some idea what would lie in store for such a character.[47] Reading the tale in proof, Dickens had found it ‘horribly dismal’, stipulating to Wills that ‘that part about the sister’s madness’ – caused by the gambler’s sister’s fiancée’s suicide – ‘must not on any account remain.’ In the printed version it is commuted to a temporary ‘brain fever’, and the girl recovers sufficiently to be dispatched to Australia along with her brother. Readers of the concluding parts of David Copperfield, in which Peggotty, the Micawbers and ‘Little Emily’ all emigrate seeking different forms of redemption, only had to look to Household Words to find potential sources, and parallels, and a similar interplay between storylines. In a letter of July, Dickens indicates, albeit in humorous terms, how he himself has learned from the journal’s articles about emigration and the outback: ‘When I think of the joy of the D’Israelis, Richmonds, and other Imposters and Humbugs [down at Westminster], I think of flying to Australia and taking to the Bush’.[48]

William Howitt, another popular and experienced writer of the day, supplied two substantial stories, presented across five instalments. The first (scarcely less dismal than Crowe’s), narrates the fate of a dead Derbyshire miner’s daughters, one of them traumatised by the loss of her brother; the second, ‘The Last of a Long Line,’ is a much more spirited portrait, à la Bulwer-Lytton in miniature, of an intensely stupid High Tory squire (p. 433). A decade hence, Dickens would quarrel rather spectacularly with Howitt over the Spiritualist movement, but at this stage he and his wife Mary were welcome contributors, and ones Dickens had actively sought out. ‘The kind of papers of which I stand most in need, are short stories’, he had written to them in February, ‘with such a general purpose [i.e. liberal reform] in them as we all three have in all we do […]. All social evils, and all home affections and associations, I am particularly anxious to deal with, well’[49]. As well as contributing her ‘Bleaburn’ story – the longest serial in the volume – Harriet Martineau was also responsible (and must be held so) for ‘The Home of Woodruffe the Gardener’, which recounts, with a substantial dose of political economy, and animadversions on how to deal with gypsies, the removal from one part of the country to another of a market gardener and his family. It is a plain unvarnished tale, but in terms of the contrast it supplies with other racier or more sentimental stories in the volume, it offers both ballast and a counterweight. One may note too that in supplying his readers with work by Crowe, Howitt, Martineau and other noted writers of the 1840s – including the young Coventry Patmore; adventure novelist Philip Meadows Taylor; the satirist and Punch regular, Percival Leigh; and the novelist Geraldine Jewsbury, an outspoken critic of the emptiness of middle-class women’s lives – Dickens did not stint in his efforts to source short stories with pedigree.

This did not preclude experimenting with work by untried writers in the genre – though whether this speaks of scarcity of better material or of a meritocratic editorial policy, would be awkward to decide. Certainly, the sub-editor W. H. Wills, and ‘regulars’ (as they soon became) R. H. Horne and Henry Morley, were all allowed to contribute short fiction – the latter, in particular, showing an odd facility for surreal and bizarre allegorical writing, in pieces such as ‘My Wonderful Adventures in Skitzland’ (p. 225), ‘The Golden Fagots’ (p. 288), and ‘The Water-Drops’ (p. 482) – the last of which, the wily reader will soon perceive, addresses sanitary reform through the medium of the fairy tale. A number of other short stories in the volume were contributed by women writers whose identities cannot be ascertained from the entries in the ‘Office Book’ and authors’ ledger for the journal: a Miss Browne, a Mrs Hoare, a Miss Earle. If, as seems likely, they were sent in by subscribers with little previous or subsequent reputation as periodical contributors, this kind of participation can be considered a further dividend of anonymity. Brilliant and pioneering as its contents could be, Household Words was sufficiently pedestrian in places to encourage readers to try to become writers.

Forty four poems featured in Household Words’s first bi-annual volume – a much higher frequency than in subsequent semesters, suggesting that Dickens and Wills initially had no trouble in finding poetry they considered suitable for publication. The introductions to later volumes will document their increasing difficulty in attracting publishable verse contributions. There is a good variety of forms on display here – roughly a third are narrative poems, half are lyrics, and the rest occasional verse – but the same elasticity of genre and subgenre notable in regard to prose items also characterizes the poetry in Household Words. Motivational verse seems as valuable a characterisation as lyric or narrative, and the strong religious overtones in many gravitate towards the hymn. Again, as with the short fiction, behind the anonymity stood a group of authors with claims to (for want of a less problematic term) canonicity. It included ageing poets of the pre-Victorian Romantic school such as Leigh Hunt and Bryan Waller Procter; young writers with ascendant reputations such as George Meredith and William Allingham; Swedish folk songs rendered in English by Mary Howitt; as well as numerous pieces by R. H. Horne, author of the visionary blank verse tragedy Orion, a remarkable writer who ‘aspired to the condition of genius’ even if his pretensions to ‘vatic grandeur’ proved illusionary (as one biographer concludes).[50] Other verse contributions of notable origin include ‘Lines by Robert Southey’ (p. 167), introduced as ‘from an unpublished autograph’,[51] and two ‘imitations’ from the Roman fabulist Phaedrus (15 BC–50 AD), by no less eminent a hand than that of Edward George Bulwer Lytton, doyenne of the English novel (p. 288 and p. 304). Thomas Noone Talfourd’s ‘Sonnet to Lord Denman. Retiring from the Chief Justiceship of England’ (p. 60) is a stirring enough panegyric, and a good example of how the poetry in Household Words could occasionally fulfil the functions of a news item or prose report: but a poem written from one judge to another, roundly celebrating the ‘bodied majesty of England’s Law’, can hardly fail to look incongruous in a journal which elsewhere clearly relished holding the law and its practitioners to account.

            Although some well-known authors can be attached to the poems in this volume, it can scarcely be said that any of the poems, individually, remains well known. This is the common lot of the vast majority of the anonymous verses printed in Victorian periodicals: unless they were subsequently reprinted in a collection with an author’s name attached, they had no chance of survival or reputation independent of the periodical where they appeared. Individual poems in Household Words were seldom singled out in newspaper reviews of the weekly or monthly numbers: the Glasgow Herald’s comments on Hunt’s ‘Abraham and the Fire-Worshippers’ are very much an exception.[52]

The remaining lyrics and ballads in the volume will strike the reader as melancholy, exhortatory, meditative, remorseful and pious by turns; beyond this local variety, a harsher critic might consider them uniformly bland and unmemorable. Certainly, it is hard to avoid the suspicion that whereas the non-fiction and much of the short fiction in the journal is devised and executed with a view to breaking new territory and covering topics or themes indicative of a clear editorial plan, the poetry is incidental and unplanned – a makeweight, a filler, or even a stop-gap. A glance at page 82, where Hunt’s four-line ‘Dream within Dream; or, Evil Minimised’ is printed at the foot of the left-hand column, may confirm such suspicions. The question has been examined thoughtfully, however, by Linda K. Hughes, who cautions that while Victorian magazine verse may have become for later generations of reader and critic ‘a signifier of trite or sentimental “filler” worth no one’s time’, such an identification ‘needs to be carefully qualified’ because the remarkable prevalence of such verse and ‘the regularity of its appearance, suggests that affective poetry served some larger need.’ Hughes’s suggestions – that traditional sentimental verse counteracted the uneasy ‘jumble of deracinated, ephemeral information […] abruptly juxtaposed’ in the modern magazine, thus ‘mediat[ing] the miscellaneousness and ephemerality of the periodical itself’; that ‘its predictable rhymes and sing-song rhythms serv[ed] as countercharms to unpredictability elsewhere and form[ed] a spiritualized counterpart to the rhythmic waves of serial publication’[53] – are insightful, even if unsupported by any form of reader-response evidence of the kind advocated by Jonathan Rose in his groundbreaking Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2001). Introductions to later volumes will document Dickens’s developing anxiety about the quality and affect of the poetry published in the columns of his journals, but its continuing presence and striking popularity amongst readers indicates its centrality to their constitution. Setting Dickens’s editorial performance in this respect alongside those of the other editors and journals Hughes profiles is by no means unflattering.[54] Such conclusions as those reached by a biographer of Adelaide Procter (perhaps the most widely read of all the poets to be showcased in the journal) are clearly susceptible of further refinement:

Dickens was not a good judge of poetry, but he could almost infallibly choose what would stir the popular heart – though even his gorge sometimes rose at the more sentimental […] offerings.[55]

Current Affairs (domestic /international politics)

The launching of Household Words took place during the fifth year of a Whig-Liberal administration (1846-52) led by Lord John Russell, a politician of whom Dickens genuinely approved, and with whom he was on familiar terms.[56] Nevertheless, there were sufficient tensions between members of the Cabinet (for example, between Viscount Palmerston as Foreign Secretary, and the 3rd Earl Grey as Secretary of State for War and the Colonies) and inconsistencies of official performance, for Dickens and his team to take issue with government policy in various ways. Even with Russell installed as Leader of the House of Commons, it could still – in Dickens’s view – make egregious mistakes, as he indicates in a blistering leading article called ‘The Sunday Screw’ (p. 289), which effectively turns the screw on Lord Ashley and his supporters, who had succeeded in passing a motion calling for a ban on the collection or delivery of letters on Sundays, a motion ‘discussed by something less than a fourth of the House of Commons, and affirmed by something less than a seventh.’[57] Dickens’s admiration for the Post Office and what it stood for, blends here with a similar admiration for the character and conduct of ‘the English people’ (Dickens determinedly collapses what he sees as a fallacious ‘Socialist’ distinction between the working and the middle classes[58]), no less than with his reverence for the spirit of the Gospel, and gives the satire a powerful and distinctive bite. Readers of the journal would grow accustomed to the style, without knowing that, some fourteen years before, Dickens had cut his teeth in anti-Sabbatarian satire, by publishing a widely reviewed pamphlet called Sunday under Three Heads (1836), under the pseudonym of ‘Timothy Sparks.’[59] ‘The Sunday Screw’ leaves no doubt as to its author, and takes little pains to disguise from the stamp commissioner its status as news editorial.

Dickens’s general impatience with Parliament at this time also emerges in private comments on the death of Peel on 2 July – ‘a man of mark, who could be ill-spared from that great Dust Heap down at Westminster’, ‘the great dust heap of imbeciles and dandies that there is no machinery for sifting’ – as well as his change of heart towards a Tory politician whom he had openly despised on his return to office in 1841.[60] This contrastive admiration is amplified, in somewhat ponderous terms, in the ‘Three Kingdoms’ editorial essay which opened the July number of the Household Narrative of Current Events. It is worth emphasising that in these essays (until their cessation in December 1852), and in the more neutral ‘Narrative of Parliament and Politics’ column, a full analysis of domestic and foreign policy and legislative changes is offered, that, for any reader of both publications, acts to counterbalance the highly selective treatment given to such matters in the parent journal.[61] So, while Household Words has nothing to say at this time about the Public Libraries Act, the Factory Act or the Coal Mines Inspection Acts, all passed before the August recess in 1850, each receives attention in the Narrative.[62] Similarly, important developments in European, imperial and world affairs are dealt with in the latter – the death of Louis Philippe of France; Prussian attempts at German unification; and the ‘Peace of Berlin’; the outbreak of a further Anglo-Xhosa war (1850-53) – but absent from the former.[63] Of course, as we note above, Household Words had to be sparing with its hard news coverage in order to avoid the requirement to pay Stamp Duty; it explored issues rather than reporting events, and preferred to investigate the impact (or otherwise) of legislation after its enacting, as, for example, with the whole question of factory and mine inspection.[64] The Narrative’s editorial essays were probably written by John Forster, but were widely considered as representing Dickens’s views: and understandably so, as his name was the only name on the mast-head. Some valuable research remains to be done on the publication and reception of the Narrative to indicate how much involvement Dickens had with its composition, but that its political opinions could spark controversy, the spat with Reynolds’s Newspaper discussed above amply demonstrates.

Current affairs (social & cultural)

Given the circumspection and compromise required with any sort of direct political reporting, Dickens’s new journal came into its own with its feature writing on social and cultural matters. Its cross-genre method of broaching sanitary reform has been considered above, under ‘Leading Articles’, as has its interest in theatrical tastes and mores (under ‘Background’). One of the key genres explored by Dickens and his inner-circle of writers in this first volume is travel writing, or the récit de voyage, in which narrator – playing on the familiar structures and tropes of travel narratives in foreign climes – makes a cultural pilgrimage, there and back again, to see some mysterious domestic ‘wonder.’ At times the visit is to a place or institution where the irony set in motion by the narrative technique serves to expose backwardness and barbarism; often, however the narrator wishes to stand witness to remarkable achievements, and celebrate technological advances. Encounters with the London fire brigade, Billingsgate market, a Westminster Ragged School, a home for pauper children, a workhouse, the Bank of England, a paper mill, the Greenwich Observatory and metropolitan slaughterhouses are all recounted in this volume, with a greater or lesser admixture of traveller’s tale in their composition.[65] Given that their narrators are usually nameless, the reader has no way of separating them from each other – the traveller’s voice is flexible but singular – and this is one of the more striking ways in which Dickens’s original notion of the omnipresent ‘Shadow’ ‘loom[ing] as a fanciful thing all over London’ succeeds in permeating through the series of apparently closed structures presented by the end-stopped articles and magazines of which Household Words was constituted.

Not infrequently, journeys are reported as having been made in company, and while this may be a fictional strategy, the number of jointly-authored articles of this kind recorded in the Office Book, suggests that first-hand fieldwork by the writing team often preceded composition. This was to be an area in which Household Words excelled. One of the first articles crafted on this basis, ‘Valentine’s Day at the Post Office’ – recounting a trip made by two friends to London’s central St. Martin’s Lane sorting office – was singled out for praise in newspaper reviews of Household Words’s first number. Compared with the sombre matter of ‘Lizze Leigh’, the Morning Chronicle reviewer found

metal more attractive in [this] most admirably got up paper – evidently by an old magazine hand [...] a lively and sparkling narrative [...] a gem in its way and a perfect model for tyros in magazining to form themselves on.[66]

These composite articles were, by their very nature, not reprintable by an individual author, so they remained uncollected, and unclaimed, as it were, until the late 1960s. Harry Stone’s two volume edition permitted scholars, for the first time, to explore how Dickens worked as a collaborator, not just as an editor. ‘Over and over again in these joint articles’, Stone writes, ‘Dickens’ eye, voice, and sensibility suddenly enter and quicken an essay: marvelously shifting point of view, subtly deepening a vignette, brilliantly pointing up an absurdity, or working some other transformation.’[67]

           Two planned series of articles on social and cultural affairs stand out. The first was named ‘Illustrations of Cheapness’, authored by veteran journalist and campaigner against the so-called ‘Taxes on Knowledge’, Charles Knight. Dickens read the drafts shortly before the magazine launched, and found them ‘most admirable’, selecting Knight’s account of the chemistry and manufacture of the Lucifer match to run in the magazine’s third number (p. 54), where ‘it comes out gloriously.’ The second described how globes of the world are made, at a manufactory just off Drury Lane, where Dickens himself, as he told Knight, had recently ‘look[ed] in at the window at that identical globe-maker!’[68] Other articles followed, on eggs, tea, and, finally, the steel engraving pen, an article which, Dickens told his Sub-editor, ‘has an Educational reference – is very good’ and deserving of a place as leading article (p. 553). Knight later reprinted most of the series under his own name in a two-volume collection of his prose writings – a common practice for successful contributors to Dickens’s journals.[69]

A second important series, characteristic of the journal’s developing sense of identity, began exploring the culture and methods of London’s detective police. It includes Wills’s ‘The Modern Science of Thief-Taking’ (p. 368), Dickens’s ‘A Detective Police Party’ (p. 409) and his ‘Three “Detective” Anecdotes’ (p. 577). The undercover, preventive activities of the Detective Branch, established in 1842, were regarded at first with some suspicion, but a series of successful operations was turning the tide of public opinion.[70] The Household Words articles – which depict the detectives in a racy and admiring fashion – can only have added to the growing mystique surrounding the detective’s role, and the development of a whole new literary genre, as Ian Ousby and Heather Worthington have outlined. The inspiration for the series may in fact have been a Chambers’s Journal column called ‘Recollections of a Police-Officer’ that had commenced in July 1849, narrated throughout in the first person by a fictitious ex-policeman called ‘Waters.’[71] In constructing his accounts, Dickens chooses to vary the manner of narration as much as possible, and ‘do the police in different voices’ (as Betty Higden is later to say of Sloppy, in Our Mutual Friend), making use of question-and-answer routines. To original fieldwork, and investigative flair, Household Words now added the colloquial and freeform interview as a further area of special expertise.

Appreciation of literature, music, and the fine arts is represented in this volume by a decidedly lukewarm obituary of Wordsworth, who is criticised for being ‘in this world but not of it’ (p. 210), in firm contrast to the musician and choirmaster John Hullah, whose active efforts to bring the joys of choral singing to the masses are celebrated in ‘Music in Humble Life (p. 161); and by a virulent leader by Dickens on a painting by John Everett Millais, known as ‘Christ in the House of His Parents’, then on show at the Royal Academy. Dickens was not alone in expressing disquiet at the ‘determined realism’[72] of the painting’s depiction of the Holy Family, but his representation of it in the article as plumbing ‘the depths of what is mean, odious, repulsive, and revolting’ seems a striking over-reaction – explicable only on the basis that he interprets the painting as a symptom of a much broader, regressive socio-spiritual tendency that included – as he saw it – Puseyism (i.e. the Oxford Movement in the Church of England), wrong-headed ‘Pre-Raphaelite’ aestheticism, and a willingness to turn the clock back to the barbarism of the Middle Ages. Given that Household Words was coming out strongly in favour of modern scientific and technological advances as well as of the ‘Romance […] in all familiar things’ (‘A Preliminary Word’ p. 2) – the editorial position is consistent enough, even if the corrosive force of the satire remains unpalatable. Dickens’s justification, as he wrote to Daniel Maclise, was that there were ‘very serious social considerations’ at stake: ‘if such things were allowed to sweep on, without some vigorous protest, three fourths of this Nation would be under the feet of Priests, in ten years.’[73] The article was titled ‘Old Lamps for New Ones’, and in the list of new lamps that might be obliterated by such a reflux from the Bad Old Days, Dickens lists over a dozen modern artists: Shakespeare, in literature; Mozart, Beethoven and Handel, in music; Harvey, in medicine; and Newton, in science. It is a wholeheartedly populist selection of favourites.


Given the elements of the emergent house style – investigative fieldwork, narrative innovation, a variable and frequently ironic tone, the sense of theatre and audience – one might, correctly, predict that dry, monologic scientific writing would not form part of the Household Words miscellany. However, as Jim Mussell has argued, writers about science in Victorian periodicals keenly understood the need for a precise understanding of storytelling strategies, and, in cases where the existence of hitherto unnoticed objects was being posited to explain commonly-observable phenomena, the very ‘reality’ of the objects could depend on mobilising cultural forces, and securing rhetorical assent in their construction. H. G. Wells, writing in Nature in 1894, is cited: ‘“The fundamental principles of construction that underlie such stories as Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ or Conan Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series, are precisely those that should guide a scientific writer.”’[74] Nineteenth-century science also called on techniques that could be termed theatrical, or at least performative: public lectures and scientific demonstrations were a common form of evening entertainment, popularised under Prince Albert’s patronage, by the Royal (Polytechnic) Institution’s educational programme. From both these perspectives, then, science and Household Words were far from incompatible.

For a number of years Michael Faraday, as Director of the Laboratory at the Royal Institution in Regent Street, had been giving series of talks – including some at Christmas, for children – on the basic chemical principles involved in such common domestic things as fire, candles, lamps, kettles, chimneys and ashes, and these had recommenced on 1 April 1850. Nothing daunted, and in spite of recognising the limitations of ‘a people formed entirely in their hours of leisure by Polytechnic Institutions’ (‘The Amusements of the People’, p. 13) Dickens wrote to Faraday in late May, requesting a loan of his notes, so as to offer ‘a large class of the public […] some account of your late lectures on the breakfast table.’[75] Faraday generously complied, and Dickens entrusted Percival Leigh, a ‘contributor who has a practical knowledge of chemistry’ with their redaction into articles. The first of these, ‘The Chemistry of a Candle’, ran as the second item on 3 August (p. 439), recounting in a kind of Socratic dialogue, the ‘conversation’ between Uncle Bagges and his precocious nephew Harry Wilkinson, who has attended the Institution’s lectures and remembered virtually everything ‘Professor Faraday said.’ Readers may feel their patience is being tested every bit as much as Uncle Bagges’s by this form of treatment; on the other hand, it sets up a powerful narrative dynamic (or thermodynamic?) particularly at the points where the weight of scientific exegesis threatens to overwhelm the characterization of young Harry. Dickens took a keen interest in the series, as he did in a surprising array of scientific debates. While the depth of his understanding of such debates has long been established as a point of critical and sometimes pedantic dispute, subsequent introductions to the volumes of Household Words and All the Year Round will demonstrate the considerable extent of his editorial engagement with science. As Holly Furneaux and Ben Winyard conclude in a recent overview of research in this area, there is little doubt that ‘Dickens championed a democratically accessible science that resembled fiction in its ability to stir the imagination, produce incredible narratives and bind together a reading public.’[76]

Percival Leigh was to continue the Bagges-Wilkinson scenario in a further article in this volume (‘The Laboratory in the Chest’, p. 565), in which Uncle Bagges hosts highly improbable scientific conversaziones and invites his nephew to give demonstrations à la Faraday. Following up on a related theme, Dickens and Wills recruited a former editor of the London Polytechnic Magazine (1844-45), Thomas Stone, to write an account of a visit to the different galleries of the Institution, in ‘A Shilling’s Worth of Science’ (p. 507). Stone also elaborated on the ‘world of paradoxes’ wherein we live, and which only Science can help demystify, in ‘Chemical Contradictions’ (p. 591); the fanciful analogies in this article, no less than the pen-picture of the sober ‘analytical chemist’ may well be editorial embellishments. Two articles on the Greenwich observatory by Frederick Knight Hunt – ‘The Planet-Watchers of Greenwich’ (p. 200) and ‘Greenwich Weather-Wisdom’ (p. 222) – and another by him on the manufacture and testing of ship’s compasses (‘Swinging the Ship’, p. 414) helped establish Household Words’s interest in nautical science. Readers of Dickens’s two latest novels, Dombey and Son and David Copperfield, would have had no difficulty in relating the journal’s fondness for maritime matters to its editor’s established predilections. Knight Hunt’s fascinating account of the storeroom of the Hunterian Museum, ‘What there is in the Roof of the College of Surgeons’ (p. 464), is a further attempt at turning the idea of a gallery or museum visit into narrative, that offered readers the added textual pleasure of being taken somewhere beyond the permitted access zones: ‘Like Fatima in Bluebeard's Tower, impelled by an overbearing curiosity, we turn the lock of the centre door, and enter the chamber […]’ (p. 465). There are good grounds for suggesting that Dickens’s editorial involvement with these early Household Words articles on scientific displays later fed impressionistically into the portraiture of Our Mutual Friend, with its ‘Analytical Chemist’ and taxidermist and amateur anatomist, Mr Venus.

The scientific processes underpinning industrial and technological advances in Britain are likewise given due space in the journal, in accordance with Dickens’s opening manifesto, which had promised to accompany travellers through the land, and report back tales ‘of the towering chimneys he may see, spirting out fire and smoke upon the prospect […] in all their wild, grotesque, and fanciful aspects, in all their many phases of endurance, in all their many moving lessons of compassion’ (‘A Preliminary Word’, p. 1). Accordingly, R. H. Horne’s three-part ‘True Story of a Coal Fire’ (p. 26), adopting the semi-allegorical fairytale mode of A Christmas Carol, takes a dandaical youth, Flashley (who has drunk too much on a visit to his dull coal-mining uncle) on a journey back into the primeval forests, to be lectured on the origins of coal by an elfin spirit. His morally-instructive journey develops into an odyssey, as he finds himself working his passage from Newcastle to London on a colliery boat, before he awakens to an earnest sense of life’s duties and the significance of coal. Horne’s ‘The Black Diamonds of England’ (p. 246) then offers a brief history of coal mining and trading from the middle ages to the contemporary phase of expansion, terminating in a guided tour of the London Coal Exchange and a critique of its mismanagement by ‘the City authorities.’ The article introduces fictional characters as it progresses, and is followed up by an entirely fictive letter (‘Chip: From Mr. T. Oldcastle. Concerning the Coal Exchange’, p. 352) with no serious point to make, other than the fleshing out of the eccentric personae designed to carry the argument. A similar ‘grotesque and fanciful’ approach is adopted in ‘The Fire Annihilator’ (p. 277), which explains the chemical principles of the fire extinguisher from the perspective of a sceptical, blustering sugar-baker, who is attending a hands-on demonstration of the new invention, along with his nervous wife. By contrast, Horne’s ‘Steam Plough’ article (p. 604), despite opening and closing with lively anecdotes of the Shelleys and Robert Burns, is conceived and executed on entirely orthodox magazine principles. For some readers this will be a welcome relief; for others it will seem humdrum; others still may applaud the overall leavening of the magazine’s ingredients. There are, at any rate, sufficient articles on science and technology in this first volume of Household Words to balance out such differences of approach and response.

Editorial Issues        
Given that we are dealing in this volume with the launch and first six months of the life of Household Words, this introduction has touched on matters of editorial importance under virtually all of the previous headings. However, one or two further aspects still require comment. The sustainability of the journal would depend in the medium and long term on such prosaic matters as how well it paid its contributors. On the available evidence, payment was ample and – perhaps as important – prompt: ₤1 per page for prose, and something over double this, pro rata, for poetry, equating to something like ₤70–140 per thousand words, in modern terms. When Elizabeth Gaskell received ₤20 for ‘Lizzie Leigh’ from Dickens and Wills, she ‘stared, and wondered if I was swindling them but I suppose I am not.’ Her biographer concludes that Household Words

 promised to be an ideal outlet. Payment was good, publication was swift and, since the articles carried no names, she was freed from the fear of criticism.[77]

In later years, other contributors would be less impressed with the journal’s arrangements, and introductions to the relevant volumes will document demands for higher rates and firm editorial rebuffs; ‘political economy’, recalled John Hollingshead, ‘if it governed nothing else in Wellington Street, certainly governed the business conduct of the journal.’[78]

            At this early stage, however, contributors were satisfied and the greater danger lay in the magazine’s failing to take hold of the imagination of its subscribers. The success of the magazine depended on its rhetorical and poetical appeal, and Dickens had no doubt been right to invest time in its imaginative conceptualisation, and in encouraging contributors to follow his lead. Visually, there was very little about it to attract the eye, or distinguish it from worthy but duller rivals – as the Morning Chronicle was quick to observe:

So far as appearance, bulk, and typography go, ‘Household Words’ form a very good two-pennyworth of reading. The letterpress is arranged in double columns, after the manner of ‘Chambers’ [sic] Journal,’ and the general appearance of the two works is pretty similar.[79]

It was on the quality of its material that the new journal would stand or fall, so perhaps we can give the last word on its initial reception to an avid reader who was himself a young tyro in journalism in the spring of 1850, as yet unknown to the editorial team at Wellington Street. This was Edmund Yates, and his recollections will serve as a suitably upbeat fanfare for the contents of the current volume, and the 42 others to follow in this series:

 And just about then appeared the first numbers of Household Words, which I devoured, and the early volumes of which still appear to me, after a tolerably wide experience of such matters, to be perfect models of what a magazine intended for general reading should be. In them, besides the admirable work done by Dickens himself – and he was never better than in his concentrated essays – there was the dawning genius of Sala, which had for me a peculiar fascination; the novels of Mrs. Gaskell; the antiquarian lore of Peter Cunningham and Charles Knight; the trenchant criticism of Forster; the first-fruits of Wilkie Collins’s unrivalled plot-weaving; the descriptive powers of R. H. Horne, who as a prose-writer was terse and practical; the poetic pathos of Adelaide Procter; the Parisian sketches of Blanchard Jerrold; the singularly original “Roving Englishman” series of Grenville Murray; the odd humour of Henry Spicer.[80]

A miscellany indeed, and of genres no less than of authors, remembered and forgotten. We are delighted to be part of the process by which this remarkable Victorian cultural artifact is re-set and re-presented for a twenty-first-century readership.


John Drew, Hazel Mackenzie, Ben Winyard

October 2011



Andrews, Malcolm, ‘Introducing Master Humphrey’, Dickensian, 67 (1971), 70-86.

Bodenheimer, Rosemarie, Knowing Dickens (London and Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007).

Buckler, William E., ‘Dickens the Paymaster’, PMLA,66 (1951), 1177-80.

——, ‘Dickens’s success with Household Words’, Dickensian, 46 (1950), 197-203.

Buurma, Rachel Sagner, ‘Anonymity, Corporate Authority, and the Archive: The Production of Authorship in Late-Victorian England’, Victorian Studies, 50 (2007), 15-42.

Carrow, G. D., ‘Informal Call on Charles Dickens by a Philadelphia Clergyman’, Dickensian, 63 (1967), 112-19.

Chittick, Kathryn. ‘The Idea of a Miscellany: Master Humphrey’s Clock’, Dickensian, 78 (1982), 156-64.

Collins, Philip, ‘The All the Year Round Letter Book’, Victorian Periodical Newsletter, 10 (1970), 23-29.

Drew, John, Dickens the Journalist (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003).

——, ‘Texts, E-Texts, Paratexts: the Poetics of Communication in Dickens’s Journalism’, in Essays and Studies ed. by Juliet John [forthcoming 2012].

—— and Michael Slater, ‘What’s in the Daily News? A re-evaluation, Part I’, The Dickensian, 106 (2010), 197-206; ‘What's in The Daily News? A re-evaluation, Part II’, The Dickensian, 107 (2011), 22-39.

Easley, Alexis, First-Person Anonymous: Women Writers and Victorian Print Media, 1830-70 (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004).

Farina, Jonathan V., ‘“A Certain Shadow”: Personified Abstractions and the Form of Household Words’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 42 (Winter 2009), 392-415.

Fielding, K. J. (ed.), The Speeches of Charles Dickens. A Complete Edition [1960] (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, 1988).

Fitzgerald, Percy H., Memories of Charles Dickens (Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith, 1913).

Forster, John, The Life of Charles Dickens [3 vols. 1872-74], ed. by J. W. T. Ley (London: Cecil Palmer, 1928).

Grubb, Gerald G., ‘The Editorial Policies of Charles Dickens’, PMLA,58 (1943), 1110-24.

——, ‘Dickens the Paymaster Once More’, Dickensian,51 (1955), 72-8.

Hanaford, Phebe A., The Life and Writings of Charles Dickens: A Woman’s Memorial Volume (Boston: B. B. Russell, 1871).

Hollingshead, John, My Lifetime,2 vols (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, 1895).

Huett, Lorna, ‘Among the Unknown Public: Household Words, All the Year Round and the Mass-Market Weekly Periodical in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 38 (Spring 2005), 61-82.

Hughes, Linda K., ‘What the Wellesley Index Left Out: Why Poetry Matters to Periodical Studies’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 40 (Summer 2007), 91-125.

—— and Michael Lund, Victorian Publishing and Mrs Gaskell’s Work (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 1999).

Lai, Shu-Fang, ‘Fact or Fancy: What Can We Learn about Dickens from His Periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round?’, Victorian Periodicals Review,34 (2001), 41-53.

Ledger, Sally, and Holly Furneaux (eds), Charles Dickens in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Letters of Charles Dickens ‘The Pilgrim Edition’, general eds Madeline House, Graham Storey & Kathleen Tillotson, 12 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965-2002).

Lohrli, Anne, Household Words, A Weekly Journal 1850-1859 Conducted by Charles Dickens: Table of Contents, List of Contributors and Their Contributions [...]. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973).

Mussell, Jim, ‘Nineteenth-Century Popular Science Magazines, Narrative, and the Problem of Historical Materiality’, Journalism Studies, 8 (2007), 656-66.

Nayder, Lillian, Unequal Partners: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Victorian Authorship (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

Oppenlander, Ella Ann, Dickens’ All the Year Round: Descriptive Index and Contributor List (Troy, NY: Whitston Publishing, 1984).

Ousby, Ian, Bloodhounds of Heaven (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976).

Patten, Robert L., Charles Dickens and his Publishers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978).

Rose, Jonathan, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, 2nd edn. (London: Yale University Press, 2010).

Rubery, Matthew, ‘Victorian Print Culture, Journalism, and The Novel’, Literature Compass, 7 (March 2010), 290-300.

Sarris, Andrew, ‘Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962’, Film Culture, No. 27 (Winter 1962-63), 1-8.

——, The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-68 (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1968).

Schlicke, P. (ed.), The Oxford Reader’s Companion to Dickens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Slater, Michael, Charles Dickens (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

——, ed. & intros The Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens’ Journalism (Vols 1-3); Michael Slater and John Drew, eds and intro. (Vol. 4). 4 vols (London: J. M. Dent, 1994-2000).

Solly, H. S., Life of Henry Morley (London: Arnold, 1898).

Stone, Harry, ed. & intro., Charles Dickens’ Uncollected Writings from Household Words, 1850-59, 2 vols (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1968).

Stonehouse, J. H. (ed.), Catalogue of the Library of Charles Dickens, from Gadshill (London: Piccadilly Fountain Press, 1935).

Truffaut, François, ‘Une certaine tendance du cinéma français’, Cahiers du Cinéma, No. 31 (January 1954), 15–28.

Uglow, Jenny, Elizabeth Gaskell, A Habit of Stories (London: Faber & Faber, 1994).

Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals: 1800-1900 Series 2, ed. John S. North. Online at <<a href="https://webmail.buckingham.ac.uk/owa/redir.aspx?C=ac6f63f631084d7bab12c584c2b752de&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.victorianperiodicals.com" target="_blank">www.victorianperiodicals.com> [accessed 7/10/2011].

Winyard, Ben and Holly Furneaux, ‘Introduction: Dickens, Science and the Victorian Literary Imagination’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (April 2010). Available at: <<a href="http://19.bbk.ac.uk/index.php/19/article/view/572">http://19.bbk.ac.uk/index.php/19/article/view/572> [accessed 02/10/2011].

Wolfe, Tom, ed. & intro. The New Journalism [1975] (London: Picador, 1996).

Worthington, Heather, The Rise of the Detective in Early Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Yates, Edmund, Edmund Yates: His Recollections and Experiences (London: R. Bentley, 1884).

[1] See bibliography for the works by Harry Stone, Anne Lohrli, Michael Slater, and John Drew that have helped establish this.

[2] See Malcolm Andrews, ‘Introducing Master Humphrey’, Dickensian, 67 (1971), pp. 70-86 and Kathryn Chittick, ‘The Idea of a Miscellany: Master Humphrey’s Clock’, Dickensian, 78 (1982), pp. 156-64. .

[3] See discussion of Dickens’s enquiries about careers in the law, becoming a police magistrate, or appointment to ‘some Commissionership, or Inspectorship’, under ‘Dickens, Charles. 2. Public Life’ in P. Schlicke (ed.), The Oxford Reader’s Companion to Dickens (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

[4] Letter to John Forster, The Letters of Charles Dickens: Vol. 4, 1844–1846, Pilgrim Edition, ed. by Kathleen Tillotson and Nina Burgis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977) pp. 327-29.

[5] For an overview of such influences as Sir Richard Steele, Henry Fielding, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Mackenzie, and others, see ‘Essays and Essayists before Dickens’ in Schlicke.

[6] John Forster, The Life of Charles Dickens [3 vols. 1872-74], ed. By J. W. T. Ley (London: Cecil Palmer, 1928), Book V, chap. i ‘Again in England.’

[7] John Drew and Michael Slater, ‘What’s in the Daily News? A re-evaluation, Part I’, The Dickensian, 106 (2010), 197-206; ‘What's in The Daily News? A re-evaluation, Part II’, The Dickensian, 107 (2011), 22-39.

[8] See Drew, Journalist, chap. 6.

[9] Letter to John Forster, 22 and 23 November 1846, in Letters 4, pp. 658-60 (p. 660); Letter to John Forster, 30 September 1849, in The Letters of Charles Dickens: Vol. 5, 1847–1849, Pilgrim Edition, ed. by Graham Storey and K. J. Fielding (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 619.

[10] Letter to John Forster, Letters 5, pp. 622-23.

[11] Michael Slater, Charles Dickens (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011) p. 297.

[12] See Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Knowing Dickens (London and Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007)p. 55-56 & chap. 3; and Jonathan V. Farina, ‘“A Certain Shadow”: Personified Abstractions and the Form of Household Words’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 42 (Winter 2009), pp. 392-415.

[13] See, variously, Rachel Sagner Buurma, ‘Anonymity, Corporate Authority, and the Archive: The Production of Authorship in Late-Victorian England’, Victorian Studies, 50 (2007), 15-42, Alexis Easley, First-Person Anonymous: Women Writers and Victorian Print Media, 1830-70 (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004) and Matthew Rubery, ‘Victorian Print Culture, Journalism, and The Novel’, Literature Compass, 7 (March 2010), 290-300.

[14] Lorna Huett, ‘Among the Unknown Public: Household Words, All the Year Round and the Mass-Market Weekly Periodical in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 38 (Spring 2005), 61-82 (pp. 78, 79).

[15] As with the 1845 outline for The Cricket, the suggested quotation is from Goldsmith’s History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1774; Dickens owned the 1816 edn. In 6 vols; see Stonehouse, ed.). If Dickens thought this would induce Forster, author in 1848 of a biography of Goldsmith, to approve the title, he was mistaken.

[16] Letters to John Forster, ?mid-January, ?24-30 and ?31 January and ?1 February 1850, in The Letters of Charles Dickens: Vol. 6, 1844–1846, Pilgrim Edition, ed. by Graham Storey, Kathleen Tillotson and Nina Burgis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), pp. 11, 21, 25, 26.

 [17] The full published title, strictly, was ‘Household Words. / A Weekly Journal. / Conducted by Charles Dickens.’ and the fact that Dickens’s name formed part of it would later prove legally decisive; see introductions to HW XIX and AYR I.

[18] Letter to Thomasina Ross, 21 January 1850, Letters 6, p. 13.

[19] Percy H. Fitzgerald, Memories of Charles Dickens (Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith, 1913), p. 125.

[20] For an account of a visit to Dickens’s publishing office in the 1860s, made by a Philadelphia clergyman, see G. D. Carrow, ‘Informal Call on Charles Dickens by a Philadelphia Clergyman’, Dickensian, 63 (1967), 112-19.

 [21] Quoted in H. S. Solly, Life of Henry Morley (London: Arnold, 1898), p. 150.

[22] ‘LITERARY NOTICES’, The Bradford Observer (Bradford, England), Thursday, 4 April 1850; p. 7.

[23] The Daily News (London, England), Thursday, 28 March 1850, Issue 1198, p. 5, col. d; The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Friday, 29 March 1850, Issue 25099, p. 7, col. b; ‘THE LITERARY EXAMINER’, The Examiner (London, England), Saturday, March 30, 1850; Issue 2200, p. 198 col. b.

[24] Monday, April 8, 1850; Issue 4924, p. 4 col. a.

[25] ‘THE MAGAZINES’, The Era (London, England), Sunday, 7 April 1850; Issue 602, p 9, col. d

[26] All page numbers given in conjunction with articles from Household Words refer, unless otherwise stated, both to the pagination of the original printing, and to that of this facsimile reprinting.

[27] ‘Charles Dickens and the Democratic Movement,’ 8 June 1851, p. 7 col. c. (this article also responds to negative descriptions of the Chartist movement in the Household Narrative of Current Events, probably penned by Forster). Edited by G.W.M. Reynolds (1814-79), Reynolds’s Newspaper was ‘a Sunday broadsheet […] appeal[ing] to republicans, Chartists, and other radicals […a] mixture of radical politics, practical advice, and gossip’ (DNCJ). Although a penny paper from 1855, at this point in its history it cost 4d. so was actually twice the price of Household Words, and doubtless felt the competition keenly. However, with a claimed circulation figure of over 200,000 in the 1870s, and a history of continuous publication until 1967, in some senses it had the last laugh.

[28] Fitzgerald, Memories, p. 135 and Philip Collins, ‘The All the Year Round Letter Book’, Victorian Periodical Newsletter, 10 (1970), 23-29 (p. 25); Letters 6, p. 83.

[29] SeeRobert L. Patten, Charles Dickens and his Publishers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), Appendix D.

[30] Figs. calculated from Inflation: the Value of the Pound, 1750-1998, House of Commons Research paper 99/20 (23 February 1999); online at <<a href="http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-020.pdf">http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/rp99/rp99-020.pdf> [accessed 21/09/2011]. According to the magazine’s articles of agreement, Dickens received a half, Bradbury & Evans a quarter, and Forster and Wills, an eighth share respectively.

[31] Figure for startup costs (₤950) is Dickens’s stated figure for launching All the Year Round in 1859 (see Letters 9, p. 78); the figure for fixed and variable running costs – ₤6,000 – is derived from William E. Buckler, ‘Dickens’s success with Household Words’, Dickensian, 46 (1950), 197-203 (198-99n). Buckler imports the known costs of Once a Week, the weekly rival to All the Year Round launched by publishers Bradbury & Evans after Dickens dissolved Household Words. This gives a gross take of7,476 for 26 issues of a 2d. magazine, hence weekly sales of in the region of 34-35,000: this is lower than some anecdotal estimates, but profits climbed steeply after the first semester, indicative either of rising sales or of higher actual start-up costs, or (most probably) both. See ‘Background’ sections of later volume introductions.

[32] Since 1712, publications defined as newspapers were required by government legislation (known collectively as the Stamp Acts) to pay duty in the form of a stamp costing – at different times – anything between 1d. and 4d. per copy. The duty was not abolished until 1855; see later references.

[33] Circulation figs. derived from the Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900 (<<a href="http://www.victorianperiodicals.com">www.victorianperiodicals.com>).

[34] K. J. Fielding (ed.), The Speeches of Charles Dickens. A Complete Edition [1960] (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester, 1988). , p. 107, pp. 110-13; HW I, p. 13, 57.

[35] See under ‘Theater; Performing Arts; Performing; Playwriting’ in the Subject filter of the DJO Article Index: http://www.djo.org.uk/indexes/articles.html

[36] Dickens himself wrote or co-wrote 19 of these 26 leading articles, and contributed a further 11 articles or ‘Chips’, thus featuring in 30 of the 235 articles which comprise the volume (an ‘appearance rate’ of 12.8%). For detailed contextual annotations to about half of these pieces, see Slater’s headnotes to Vol. II of Journalism [and under the article records on the DJO website].

[37] In his lengthy introduction to The New Journalism (1975; London: Picador, 1996) Tom Wolfe gives a vigorous outline of ‘the four specific devices, all of them realistic, that underlie the emotionally involving quality of the most powerful prose,’ viz. ‘scene-by-scene construction,’ ‘recording the dialogue in full,’ focalization through a ‘third-person point of view,’ and the recording in detail of ‘people’s status life’ (pp. 13, 46-47).

[38] Letters 6, p. 99; as well as a fellow member of the Association’s committee, Austin (?1812-61) was Secretary of the General Board of Health, and Dickens’s brother-in-law.

[39] Slater, Charles Dickens, p. 308.

[40] A full classification of genres and subjects for the leading articles in HW I can be explored via the filter tools on the Article Index of the www.djo.org.uk website.

[41] Letters 6, p. 28.

[42] As ‘the most popular kind of theatrical entertainment for much of the nineteenth century’ in Britain, melodrama offered, in Dickens’s eyes, ‘a common cultural language through which all strata of society can communicate’ (Juliet John, ‘Melodrama’, in Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux (eds), Charles Dickens in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 133-39 (p. 133).

[43] Saturday, 30 March 1850; Issue 147, p. 5 col. e; Friday, 29 March 1850, Issue 25099, p. 7, col. b.

[44] June 1850; p. 4 col. a.

[45] Douglas Jerrold, a leading Punch writer and close friend of Dickens’s, on hearing from him of HW’s policy of anonymous publication, declined to contribute, on the basis that it would be ‘mononymous’ throughout’ (cited inPhebe A. Hanaford, The Life and Writings of Charles Dickens: A Woman’s Memorial Volume (Boston: B. B. Russell, 1871), , p. 331).

[46] In this volume, Sidney also contributed ‘The Gentleman Beggar’ (p. 510), a legal fiction set in Liverpool.

[47] Catherine Crowe (1800-76), author of Susan Hopley (1841), and of a book about the supernatural which Dickens had reviewed for The Examiner in 1848.

[48] Letters 6, p. 123.

[49] Letters 6, p. 41.

[50] Robert Dingley, ODNB.

[51] Repr., without acknowledgement to HW, in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, I no. 2 (July 1850), p. 206. The fragment does not form part of the authoritative edition of Southey’s Works

[52] See n. 26 above.

[53] Linda K. Hughes, ‘What the Wellesley Index Left Out: Why Poetry Matters to Periodical Studies’ Victorian Periodicals Review, 40 (Summer 2007), 91-125 (pp. 91, 103, 99).

[54] Hughes considers Thackeray’s performance as editor of The Cornhill Magazine, G. H. Lewes at the Fortnightly Review, Alexander Macmillan and David Masson at Macmillan’s, Ernest Jones and Feargus O’Connor at The Labourer (pp. 94-99).

[55] Susan Drain, ‘Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-64)’ Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 32 Victorian Poets before 1850 (Thomson Gale, 1984), pp. 232-35.

[56] Dickens dined with Russell on 16 Feb. 1850 and again on 16 Jan. 1851, Letters 6, pp. 36n., 260.

[57] Motion carried by 93 votes to 68 against; see Slater, ed. Dent Journalism II, p. 249. Eventually unsuccessful, the motion was for an Address to the Crown; its opponents, e.g. Lord Brougham, feared the Sabbatarians would seek draft legislation on the heels of the ‘Sunday Trading Prevention Bill’ which was before Parliament in 1850-51 (this too was unsuccessful, with the 1833 Sunday Observance Act standing unmodified until the Shops Act of 1950 and the Sunday Trading Act of 1994).

[58] Analysts of Dickens’s politics will note the tenor of his remarks on p. where he argues that ‘the condition of what we call the working man’ can be paralleled across ‘three-fourths’ of the population, and that the hardworking middle classes have ‘no more hope of making fortunes in their vocation’ [i.e. of amassing the capital rather than exchanging their labour for pay], ‘than the working man has in his.’

[59] See Drew, Journalist, 32-34, 200n. for an appraisal.

[60] Letter to Harriet Martineau, Letters 6, p. 122 & To Mrs Richard Watson, p. 123; see Drew and Slater, ‘What’s in The Daily News’, pp. ???

[61] Vol. I, pp. 145-47.

[62] See, e.g., I, p. 75f.; p. 121; p. 156.

[63] See, à propos, HW’s description of The Stranger’s Leaf, a gossiping society newssheet published in Vienna, which summarily disposes of ‘Foreign news – including the exciting intelligence from Schleswig Holstein – […] in a dozen paragraphs’ (p. 516). HW prefers tangential coverage: e.g. interest in California – admitted to the American Union as a free state on 9 September – is anticipated in Wills’s leader on ‘The Golden City,’ itself derived in part from B. Taylor’s Eldorado 2 vols (London: Routledge, 1850).

[64] See, e.g., R. H. Horne’s ‘A Coal Miner’s Evidence’ HW II (7 Dec. 1850), pp. 245-50, and the details of the so-called ‘Factory Controversy’ between HW and Harriet Martineau (Drew, Journalist, 123-25, 211n.).

[65] See variously pp. 145, 217, 297, 361, 204, 337, 529, 200, 121.

[66] Morning Chronicle (London, England), 29 March 1850, p. 7, col. b.

[67] Harry Stone (ed.), Charles Dickens’ Uncollected Writings from Household Words, 1850-59, 2 vols (Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press, 1968), intro., p. 51.

[68] Letters 6, p. 73.

[69] Lohrli’s Index contains details of 127 titles containing reprinted material from HW which took their place amongst the general literature of the mid-Victorian period: the combination of Dickens’s editing, and prior exposure in the journal, offering publishers some guarantee both of craftsmanship and readership.

[70] See Slater, Dent Journalism II, p. 265.

[71] See Heather Worthington, The Rise of the Detective in Early Nineteenth-Century Popular Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 170-72, and under ‘Russell, William.’

[72] Slater, Dent Journalism II, p. 242.

[73] Letters 6, pp. 106-07.

[74] Jim Mussell, ‘Nineteenth-Century Popular Science Magazines, Narrative, and the Problem of Historical Materiality’, Journalism Studies, 8 (2007), 656-66, (pp. 657-58).

[75] Letters 6, p. 106.

[76] Ben Winyard and Holly Furneaux, ‘Introduction: Dickens, Science and the Victorian Literary Imagination’ 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (April 2010). Available at: <<a href="http://19.bbk.ac.uk/index.php/19/article/view/572">http://19.bbk.ac.uk/index.php/19/article/view/572> [accessed 02/10/2011], p. 9.

[77] Jenny Uglow, Elizabeth Gaskell, A Habit of Stories (London: Faber & Faber, 1994), p. 251.

[78] Gerald G. Grubb, ‘The Editorial Policies of Charles Dickens’, PMLA, 58 (1943), 1110-24; the riposte by William E. Buckler, ‘Dickens the Paymaster’, PMLA, 66 (1951), 1177-80; and Grubb’s reply, ‘Dickens the Paymaster Once More’, Dickensian, 51 (1955), 72-78;John Hollingshead, My Lifetime, 2 vols (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, 1895), 1, p. 116.

[79] Friday, 29 March 1850, p. 7, col. b.

[80] Edmund Yates, Edmund Yates: His Recollections and Experiences (London: R. Bentley, 1884) , pp. 215-16.

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