Charles Dickens and TV Soaps.

Dickens BitstripSo what exactly does Charles Dickens have in common with television soaps? He wrote about the everyday life of the ordinary man in the street, The Pickwick Papers was the Coronation Street/Days of Our Lives/Fair City of his day. At a time when authors were delighted to sell 400 copies of their newly published stand alone book, Dicken’s installments of his serialized fiction stories had a circulation ofΒ  30,000 – 40,000 per month. His readers considered oneΒ  shilling well worth the cost, to find out what happened next to their favourite characters. Plus, it was cheaper than forking out a much larger sum for a full length novel, which most of the literate working class could not afford to buy. Some have estimated that during his lifetime, Charles Dickens had an audience of a million and a half people.

First published in 1836, The Pickwick Papers is often credited with establishing the appeal of serialized fiction in periodical literature. Today, some writers are emulating Dickens in publishing, either independently or traditionally, serialized fiction. Amazon has even added ‘amazon singles‘ to their website. No, it’s not an online dating service – although no doubt Amazon will get round to that eventually. People have busy lives nowadays and some readers like to download a quick read for the commute to work, provided they aren’t driving, of course.

If you’re not in the mood to take on a full length novel, there’s nothing like downloading a fifty page story to bring to bed with you, when there is zilch on TV. It can be read in the same amount of time it takes to watch one of the many movie repeats that are constantly aired. Shorter books and novellas can be written and published more frequently and usually cost less to download, so the reader is not waiting too long until the next installment.

I don’t watch TV soaps, myself, but I do like to read serialized fiction and now I’ve begun to write it, too. So thank you Charles Dickens, for still inspiring us, all these years later.

Here’s a BBC documentary on the life of Charles Dickens if you would like to find out more about this fascinating author.


About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
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11 Responses to Charles Dickens and TV Soaps.

  1. Can’t help myself, “What a dickens of a man!” πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Interesting video. Watched about a third. Must save for a little later. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. subitolove says:

    Lovely read! Just wrote a book review on John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. You may want to check it out : )

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dave Astor says:

    Great post, Jean! It’s filled with fascinating information, and it connects Charles Dickens’ approach to the present day.

    “The Pickwick Papers” is one of the funniest books ever written. Dickens wrote many “deeper” novels later in his career, but none funnier, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your comment, Dave. I agree with you about the humour in Pickwick Papers. Dickens had a way of bringing his characters alive, whether the setting was comical or tragic. I would love to have met him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dave Astor says:

        You’re very welcome, Jean!

        Yes, Charles Dickens’ characters were so vivid, and it would have been amazing to meet him. The closest I came to that was seeing his house/museum in London — not long after taking a “Dickens” course in college that had seven or eight of his novels on the reading list. The professor was so enthusiastic he even acted out scenes from the books — sort of like Dickens did himself. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. arkajyotipatra says:

    Really very interesting post and the video was was also very informative. I really enjoyed reading this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You might be interested in taking a look at my new novel Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story of the origins and subsequent history of The Pickwick Papers. It will be published in May by Random House (in the UK) and in June by Farrar. Straus & Giroux (in the USA).You can find out more at: where I can also be contacted. Also, the first pre-publication review has just appeared in Publishers Weekly. Here it is:

    I take on board what you are saying about Pickwick being the first soap opera, but I also think that Pickwick has a lot in common with reality TV, particularly Big Brother. Both are rambling, plotless things, in which alcohol fuels many an episode, and the emphasis is on observation of human nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for linking the review of your book, very interesting indeed. Good comparison of Pickwick and Big Brother, Stephen, I totally agree. Funny how some things never change.


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