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’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