The publisher

The publisher's cloth binding on the "Cheap Edition" of Pickwick.

Dickens was careful to make sure that all the illustrations used in the "Cheap Edition" were different from those in the original editions. In his letter to Chapman he states that he will have the new frontispiece done for Pickwick "without loss of time."

Dickens was careful to make sure that all the illustrations used in the "Cheap Edition" were different from those in the original editions. In his letter to Chapman he states that he will have the new frontispiece done for Pickwick "without loss of time."

Portrait of Dickens from Reeves, Men of Eminence.

Portrait of Dickens from Reeves, Men of Eminence.

Detail map of London, England, United Kingdom Overview map of London, England, United Kingdom

A: London, England, United Kingdom

Dickens's Launches the "Cheap Edition" of his Works, Beginning with "Pickwick"

3/1847
<p>Autograph letter by Dickens projecting sales of the "Cheap Edition" of his works. (From my collection.)</p>

Autograph letter by Dickens projecting sales of the "Cheap Edition" of his works. (From my collection.)

In order to further promote and increase the circulation of his writings, and to make them more readily affordable, at the end of March 1847 Dickens initiated the "Cheap Edition" of his works to be sold in parts, with smaller page size and the type set in two columns, and with different and fewer illustrations. Between April and September 1847 the first work published in parts in the "Cheap Edition" was Pickwick. This became available as a complete volume on October 8, 1847 in wrappers for 4 shillings 5 pence and cloth for 5 shillings. 

Dickens' letter to his publisher Edward Chapman dated April 26, 1847 was written very soon after the launch of the "Cheap Edition." It refers to the "Cheap Edition" parts publication of Pickwick, which Dickens hoped might reach 100,000 copies, including the first issue of the complete book. In actuality, according to Patten, Charles Dickens and his Publishers (1978) p. 191, sales of the "Cheap Edition" of Pickwick in parts ranged from 62,238 copies for the first part to 31,263 for the last. 

Dickens' letter, with his witty reference to accounting in the final paragraph, reads as follows:

"Chester Place

Twenty Sixth April 1847

My Dear Sir,

I think it will be a great thing to advance the parts as you propose. I am sanguine for our getting up to the hundred thousand, including the first issue of the complete book.

You shall hear from me about the Frontispiece, very shortly. I will take care of it, without loss of time.

It is not worth while, I think, to send any presentation copies of the parts. But I shall be glad to have a couple myself, always, regularly, and promptly.

Will you mention to your book-keeper that in case he should meet a fair copy of our accounts to last Christmas, walking about anywhere, I should be glad if he will give her my compliments, and say she may rely upon a welcome, whenever she is disposed to come towards this part of the town.

Faithfully yours always,

[Signed with a flourish] Charles Dickens

Edward Chapman, Esquire."

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