Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend was originally published in 19 monthly installments, from May 1864 to November 1865. Each installment was 32 pages long, with 2 illustrations by Marcus Stone, and cost 1 shilling. The final installment was a special double-length part, which cost 2 shillings.
This year, beginning in May, the reading project will be replicating Dickens’s first readers’ experience of enjoying this novel as it came out in monthly parts. You can access high-resolution scans of the original parts on the website of the Clarendon Edition of Our Mutual Friend, based at Queen’s University, Belfast, and edited by Leon Litvak.
These scans include the original wrappers with their high number of advertisements, giving you a great sense of the context of the novel for the original readers. This novel featured the most advertisments of any of Dickens’s serial publications.
Birkbeck's aim is to share a digital reading experiment that recaptures the materialities and rhythms of nineteenth-century serial reading through social media in the digital age.
They will be posting monthly on the installments, with lots of posts in between on various aspects of the novel, including its publication, format, original reception and critical readings. Please do join in by commenting and contributing.
This blog is run by the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Birkbeck, University of London , with contributions from a number of scholars at other institutions. This is the first project to kick off a year of digital and social media projects to celebrate the 10th anniversary, in late 2015, of Birkbeck’s free, online journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.
More information about the project can be found here.