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Charles Dickens at 200

Oliver Twist as a three-decker

Oliver Twist illustration

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Oliver Twist illustration

Many Victorian novels were published as serials (issued in separate weekly or monthly parts), but were also reissued later in larger type with more spacious margins and bound in three volumes. Oliver Twist was the first of Dickens' novels published as a "three-decker." Notice that the title page identifies Charles Dickens as "Author of 'The Pickwick Papers,' " a work for which he was already well known. In the first volume, Cruikshank's frontispiece depicts "Oliver’s reception by Fagin and the boys."

"Three-decker" or "triple-decker" novels were typical in19th-century England. They were particularly beneficial to lending libraries, which charged a borrower's fee from patrons. These libraries could increase their income by lending out each volume separately to a different reader.

Oliver Twist
London: Richard Bentley, 1838. Three volumes

PRESENTED BY H. ALDEN BRIGHAM MAYER, CLASS OF 1951
IN HONOR OF ROBIN JANE MAYER, CLASS OF 1982

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