William Hall, of the British publishing company Chapman and Hall, wished to publish a monthly series of cartoons by the illustrator Robert Seymour, about the “Nimrod Club,” the comic misadventures of a group of Cockney sportsmen. The cartoons would be the main thing, (think of Hogarth’s The Good Apprentice, etc.) but there would be some subsidiary text, which would supplied by a young writer, who had recently achieved some success. The writer was Charles Dickens. In 1836, shortly after the first installment was published, having been retitled The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Seymour committed suicide. In an effort to salvage the project, Dickens, with his publishers, undertook to enlarge the amount of text for the installments, even while a new illustrator was found. The project—the first time a new novel was being serialized–was an extraordinary success. How successful? Some four hundred copies of the first installment were published. As for the last installment, some forty thousand copies were published. Not only had a new writer—Charles Dickens—achieved fame, a new form of publication was also established—serialization. Why am I writing about this? Because one of my books is currently being serialized.
To be continued . . . .