Did You Know that Dickens’ first novel was meant to be a comic?
Pickwick Papers was commissioned as a text to accompany the illustrations not the other way around.
Dickens was 24 with only a volume of sketches about London to his credit. His job was to string together a story around jovial drawings of a London sporting club. Dickens took the commission even though he said he knew nothing about such clubs. The original artist Robert Seymour committed suicide after just two episodes and Dickens didn’t like the work of the man who replaced him. He lasted just one episode. At some point in these early days Dickens started to write before the illustration was prepared – the artist had no choice but to follow his lead.
He introduced the comic character of Sam Weller, man servant to Mr Pickwick, in Chapter 10 and the story exploded. Bootlegs copies were printed, Sam Weller joke books produced, stage acts performed and Dickens was a star.
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