Charles Dickens at 200

Charles Dickens and Bentley's Miscellany

Bentley's Miscellany was a general interest magazine, issued monthly from January 1837 until 1868. Charles Dickens was its first editor, and in the "Prologue" at the start of volume 1, he outlines the goals for the new journal:

What may be in the Miscellany it is your business to find out. ...We do not envy the fame or glory of other monthly publications. Let them have their room. We do not desire to jostle them in their course to fame or profit, even if it was in our power to do so. ...Our path is single and distinct. In the first place, we will have nothing to do with politics. ...

Magazines like Bentley's Miscellany were prevalent in 19th-century Britain, usually presenting a mix of stories, poetry, drollery, gossip, and political discourse. At the end of each year, the monthly parts were made available bound in one volume, with a general title page and alphabetical index listing the contents for the entire year. Because of disagreements with Richard Bentley, Dickens resigned his position as editor in February 1839.

Bentley's Miscellany

[Click images to enlarge]

Oliver Twist from Bentley's Miscellany illustration from Oliver Twist

First printing of Oliver Twist

Dickens' most notable contribution to Bentley's Miscellany is his novel Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy's Progress, which was published in twenty-four installments from February 1837 through April 1839 (Smith owns the bound annual volumes). The novel is illustrated by George Cruikshank, a prolific artist and caricaturist, who illustrated several of Dickens' novels. The very first installment prominently featured Cruikshank's representation of perhaps the most famous line in Oliver Twist, "Please sir, I want some more."

Bentley's miscellany.
London : R. Bentley, 1837-1868.


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