Charles Dickens

American Publishers Pirate Short Stories from Charles Dickens’s Weekly Magazine

American Publishers Pirate Short Stories from Charles Dickens’s Weekly Magazine


CHARLES DICKENS, Stories from Household Words. New York: Stringer & Townsend, 1850. 72 pp., 5" x 8.5". Missing cover, some staining, very legible.


Household Words was a weekly English magazine edited by Charles Dickens; it appeared from March 1850 to May 1859. Published inexpensively to attract a wide readership, the magazine featured mostly unsigned articles, though it died the authors of serialized novels. Dickens even serialized his own novel Hard Times in this periodical in 1854. This small volume is a pirated American copy of two stories from Dickens’s magazine.


These two short stories appeared in some of the earliest issues of Household Words. The first, “The True Story of a Coal-Fire,” was written by poet Richard H. Horne (1802-1884) and appeared in three successive issues of Household Words in April 1850. The second, “Lizzie Leigh” by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865), appeared in three installments in the periodical’s first three issues. By mid-May 1850, New York publishers James Stringer (1812-1883) and William A. Townsend (1814-1899) had issued them as this small book, which sold for 12½ cents. On May 6, 1850, the publishers announced, “The public may rely upon all the stories appearing in Dickens’ new Journal being furnished as fast as they can be obtained from the London copy, and in one uniform series.” This book was the first number in the series. They published a second number before the end of May.


In his 1842 visit to the United States, Dickens had tried to lobby Congress and his audiences to support international copyright protection, but his pleas were largely ignored. In the 1860s, Massachusetts printer Henry O. Houghton and New York City publisher Smith Sheldon prepared and published a very successful uniform edition of Dickens’s works, all without paying Dickens any royalties. After Houghton and Sheldon’s partnership ended, they sued each other to determine their respective ownership rights in the valuable edition, but the court declared in 1865 that neither held any legally enforceable copyright in Dickens’s work.


Dickens did not live to see Congress pass the International Copyright Act of 1891, which gave limited protection to foreign copyright holders from select nations, including Great Britain.


Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was born in Hampshire, England. When his father ended up in debtors’ prison in 1824, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory to support the family. His literary career began in 1836 with the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. He went on to write fifteen novels, five novellas, and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles. His characters became some of the world’s best known, and many consider him the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. He also became an international literary celebrity. He published most of his novels serially in monthly or weekly installments, pioneering the practice. His 1843 novella "A Christmas Carol", novels "Oliver Twist" (1837-1839) and "Great Expectations" (1860-1861), and his 1859 historical novel "A Tale of Two Cities" are among his best-known works.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.



Item: 67628

Price: $500.00
Charles DickensCharles Dickens
Charles Dickens
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