Charles Dickens at 200

Dickens' first magazine: Household Words

Household Words Household Words

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Household Words was an unillustrated weekly magazine conducted and edited by Charles Dickens from late March 1850 through May 1859. It was issued weekly, but also monthly and as bound annual volumes. Most articles were unsigned; many were edited or written by Dickens or his co-editor William Henry Wills.

The title of the magazine comes from Shakespeare's Henry V: "Familiar in their mouths as household words." Dickens' preface sets out his aspirations for Household Words:

We aspire to live in the Household affections, and to be numbered among the Household thoughts, of our readers. ...No mere utilitarian spirit, no iron binding of the mind to grim realities, will give a harsh tone to our Household Words. In the bosoms of the young and old, of the well-to-do and of the poor, we would tenderly cherish that light of Fancy which is inherent in the human breast ...

The first issue featured Lizzie Leigh, a story by Mrs. Gaskell (author of Cranford), and other stories, poems, and anecdotes.

Serialized novels were not part of the original plan for his magazine, but Dickens' tenth novel, Hard Times, was run in twenty installments to help boost sagging magazine circulation. Household Words was published by Bradbury & Evans, one of Dickens' two principal publishers. Various American publishers reissued or reprinted some parts of the magazine. When Dickens quarreled with Bradbury & Evans over the publication of a statement about his separation from his first wife, he discontinued Household Words and incorporated it into a new magazine, All the Year Round, published by Chapman & Hall.

Household Words: A Weekly Journal. Conducted by Charles Dickens


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