Tag Archives: Dickens

Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations – an ‘enormously entertaining and vivid book’

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

A review of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations: A Cultural Life, 1860-2012 has been published in the Times Literary Supplement.

Charlotte Mitchell is honorary senior lecturer at University College London, and has worked on a range of nineteenth-century writers. She writes of Mary Hammond’s study:

‘Mary Hammond’s enormously entertaining and vivid book about Great Expectations approaches the novel from a variety of angles, all of them illuminating. At one moment we find her listing translations into forty-seven languages, at another looking at the occurrence of the phrase “great expectations” before and after its publication. She gives a detailed and humorous account of the history of its reception; its current high status among Dickens’s fictions is a surprisingly recent development. In relation to the vast number of adaptations she deals deftly with her multiplicity of sources and with the theoretical issues of adaptation and remediation. … Great Expectations has meant a lot of different things in its 150-odd years, and no one has teased out so many of them so acutely before. ’

Charles Dickens Great ExpectationsHammond’s book, the product of a 9-month AHRC Fellowship, follows the long, active and sometimes surprising life of Great Expectations since its first appearance in All the Year Round (1860-61). She covers the formative history of the novel’s early years, and analyses the significance of its global reach and its literature, stage, TV, film, poetry, art, popular music and radio adaptations over its 150-year history. It is revealed that the third most adapted Dickens story did not always possess its current influence and popularity, and that book’s identity as a ‘universal favourite’ or ‘timeless classic’ was dependent, to a great extent, on modern mass-media technologies.

About the Author: Mary Hammond is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture at the University of Southampton, UK. She is the author of a number of books and articles on nineteenth-century book history including Reading, Publishing and the Formation of Literary Taste, 1880-1914 (Ashgate, 2006).

Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations is one of the seven published titles in the Ashgate Studies in Publishing History: Manuscript, Print, Digital series. Edited by Ann R. Hawkins and Maura Ives, the series supports innovative work on the cultural significance and creative impact of printing and publishing history, including reception, distribution, and translation or adaptation into other media.

Mary Shannon’s book on Dickens’ social network launches at King’s College London

The close proximity of the London offices of Charles Dickens to a network of nineteenth-century publishers, including Dickens’ arch-competitor the radical publisher G.M.W Reynolds, has been revealed for the first time in a new study by Mary L. Shannon, Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton.

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Mary Shannon signing copies of her book

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Joanne Shattock addressing the gathering

Mary Shannon’s book, Dickens, Reynolds, and Mayhew on Wellington Street, which is the latest title in Ashgate’s The Nineteenth Century Series, launched on the 20th May at King’s College London, and the event included an address from series editor Joanne Shattock and Director of the Menzies Centre, Ian Henderson. The 60+ attendees were delighted to have the opportunity to peruse information boards and illustrations revealing a selection of the author’s findings.

Commissioning editor Ann Donahue reflected upon some of these findings in a few words shared at the event:

“When I walk down the main thoroughfare of my hometown, I pass a mix of independent specialty shops and generic chain stores. The experience was very different for Londoners striding down Wellington Street in The Strand. If you were fortunate, you might observe Charles Dickens or G.W.M. Reynolds or Henry Mayhew taking a break from their labors. Great noticers themselves, these authors and editors must have had frequent encounters with their neighbors, and these chance meetings in turn could not have failed to remind them of how their competitors advanced print culture in Britain and beyond. Mary Shannon’s book has the effect of turning her readers into eye-witnesses to the ways in which the close proximity of nineteenth-century publishers affected their relationships with each other and with a network of readers in Britain and beyond. Like the nineteenth-century readers who influenced the direction of newspapers and periodicals, Shannon has written a book that cannot fail to shape the work of scholars whose research brings them to Wellington Street.”


‘Mary L. Shannon’s informative book offers an entirely new way to think about print culture. In focusing on Wellington Street off the Strand, where important Victorian writers such as Dickens, Mayhew, and Reynolds maintained their offices, she demonstrates the significance of geography for understanding the print networks that developed in midcentury London.’

Anne Humpherys, City University of New York, USA, author of Travels into the Poor Man’s Country: The Work of Henry Mayhew

Claire Tomalin on Beryl Gray: ‘Dickensians will love her book’ (The Guardian, 2014)

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

‘[Beryl] Gray is an intelligent and sensitive reader of Dickens’s work and her arguments are worth following. Dickensians will love her book’, writes award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, whose book The Invisible Woman (1990) was recently adapted into a biographical drama directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes.

The dog in the Dickensian imaginationTomalin’s review of Gray’s The Dog in the Dickensian Imagination, which appeared in the Guardian in December, is testament to Dickens’ enduring popularity, as well as to the growing fascination with animals and their representation in fiction and art. Gray’s book shows how Dickens’ works frequently engaged with dogs, both real and imagined, during an era where canine company was a common characteristic of urban and domestic life. The dogs that Dickens kept and encountered became intrinsic to the author’s literary vision and to his representations of nineteenth-century London.

Beryl Gray’s book is the latest to be published in The Nineteenth Century Series, edited by Joanne Shattock and Vincent Newey. It was launched on the 20th November at a private function in Lumen United Reform Church, a hop, skip and a jump away from Tavistock Square, which served as Dickens’ residence for several years. Shattock, who spoke at the launch, declared herself ‘delighted to see the book in print – with its arresting dust jacket and its sumptuous illustrations.’ She added, ‘we are very pleased to have this book in the Nineteenth Century series, where, unsurprisingly Dickens has featured prominently. Quoting Claire Tomalin’s point that Dickens saw the world more vividly than other people, Beryl Gray suggests he saw dogs more vividly than other people … Gray offers insightful readings of familiar texts, and many astute readings of the illustrations, showing the way novelist and illustrator worked together, and instances of where they did not.’

Dickens, Sexuality and Gender – “superb, thoughtfully compiled and thoroughly absorbing”

Dickens, Sexuality and GenderThis superb, thoughtfully compiled and thoroughly absorbing collection considers the multiple ways in which gender and sexuality are represented, and overlap and interrelate, in Dickens’s fiction. For me, the volume is a much-welcome antidote to this year of Dickensian hagiography, reminding me, in contradistinction to the barrage of anodyne celebratory verbiage, of the extraordinary richness, complexity, expansiveness and effervescence of both Dickens – the man and his work – and Dickensian studies. The popular representation of Dickens as a sort of literary Father Christmas, dispensing universal warmth and wisdom and purveying snug domestic truths and cosy norms, was prominent during the bicentenary and it was certainly something Dickens himself cultivated and encouraged during his lifetime. However, this popular approbation of Dickens sometimes neglects or underplays his tremendous vitality, mutability and contradictoriness. There is often something radical, excessive and transgressive contained within Dickens – even during his most normative moments and pronouncements – and many of the pieces collected here convincingly, artfully and playfully explore this.

Reviewed by Ben Winyard, in Cercles

Read the full review

Dickens, Sexuality and Gender is edited by Lillian Nayder, Bates College, USA, and is part of Ashgate’s 6-volume reference series A Library of Essays on Charles Dickens

Prize for Catherine Waters

Ashgate would like to congratulate Dr Catherine Waters, who earlier this year was awarded The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals‘ 2008 Robert Colby Book Prize for her book, Commodity Culture in Dickens’s Household Words. The selection committee praised Catherine’s book as ‘an excellent in-depth study of major themes in Household Words’ and described the writing as ‘clear, lively and well-argued’. Catherine was invited to The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals’ annual conference in Minneapolis, to be honoured and presented with a plaque, and offered the opportunity to deliver ‘The Colby Prize Lecture’.

Last year, the Robert Colby Book Prize was awarded to Kathryn Ledbetter for her book Tennyson and Victorian Periodicals.