Charles Dickens

Kathleen Mary Tillotson, Graham Storey, and Angus Easson (eds), The British Academy/The Pilgrim Edition of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Vol. 7: 1853–1855

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To JOHN FORSTER, [?FEBRUARY 1854]

Extract in F, vii, i, 565. Date: written, according to Forster, "in the course of [Hard Times] and after a few weeks' trial" at producing weekly Nos. To Lemon, 26 Feb, shows that he was already writing the third.

The difficulty of the space is crushing. Nobody can have an idea of it who has not had an experience of patient fiction-writing with some elbow-room always, and open places in perspective. In this form, with any kind of regard to the current number, there is absolutely no such thing.2

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Editor’s Note
2 On 20 Jan, on the first sheet of his No. for Hard Times, CD had written out a memorandum, headed "Quantity": "One sheet (16 pages of Bleak House) will make 10 pages and a quarter of Household Words. (A page and a half of my writing, will make a page of Household Words.) The Quantity of the story to be published weekly, being about five pages of Household Words, will require about seven pages and a half of my writing" (MS V & A). On the second sheet, at the head of the 1st No. Plan, he wrote: "Mem: Write and calculate the story in the old monthly Nos." But, for the final month, he decided to increase each weekly No. by c. 2½ sheets of MS; and at the head of the No. Plan he wrote "Weekly Nos. to be enlarged to 10, of my sides each—about" (MSS ibid.). He clearly found relating one or two separate episodes in a weekly No. of only 7½ pages a crippling task: see To Wills, 18 Apr, and J. Butt and K. Tillotson, CD at Work, 1957, p. 203.
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