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n "Dickens at Work on The Haunted Man" Ruth Glancy points out that the Christmas Books offered Dickens the rare opportunity "to correct an entire work before it went to press, a luxury not permitted by the serial publication of the novels" (83). In fact, in terms of instructing his artists regarding their illustrations, he had no such luxury at all. Therefore, when we compare the amount of work Dickens had to do with Hablot Knight Browne on Martin Chuzzlewit, his major publication prior to the Christmas Books, the task required for them seems comparatively simple. In October, 1843, while starting work on A Christmas Carol, Dickens wrote the November instalment, part eleven, which includes chapters 27, 28, and 29. "The routine during the composition and publication of Chuzzlewit," remarks Robert L. Patten, "in numbers was similar to that established for the previous monthly serials. The first half of each month was devoted to writing the new instalments, the second half to correcting proofs. Subjects for the plates were supplied [to Hablot Knight Browne] as early as possible, usually by the tenth" (132).

Dickens would furnish Browne ('Phiz') with a clean set of proofs and a list of suggestions for illustration. Browne would produce sketches which Dickens could then critique; thus, month in and month out, Dickens controlled an orderly programme of writing and illustration. Since the illustrations, which occupied entire pages, appeared at the end of each part, the reader could locate their realised moments in the accompanying text and, if desired, have the plates bound in at those points once all nineteen numbers had been acquired.

Now, consider the illustrations for any of The Christmas Books after A Christmas Carol, which had a single illustrator — John Leech. No longer working with a single illustrator, Dickens had to direct a team of artists to produce the illustrations for specific places in the printed text, and he had just over two months in which to ready the book for publication. The Pilgrim Edition of of the Letters of Charles Dickens reveals how tight his creative timeline was. In under eight weeks, Dickens completed writing The Haunted Man, which he began on October 5th at Devonshire Terrace, London and finished on the night of 30 November at the Bedford Hotel, Brighton. By November 15th, little more than a month before publication, Dickens had in hand the proofs for the first part, including John Tenniel's frontispiece and title-page, but not Frank Stone's Milly and the Old Man, to which Dickens did not respond until November 23rd. The day before, Dickens wrote to his point man, John Leech, "With a Stick" (underlined) because he was still did not have Leech's illustration of the Tetterby family, which had to be placed in the text early in the second part of the novella. On 27 November, when writing to Stone from Brighton, Dickens mentions that since he has no proofs of his work, he has to describe the episode he had just written ("Sir, there is a subject I have written today for the third part, that I think and hope will just suit you"). By December 1st, Leech did not have Dickens's corrected proofs for the third part, and Dickens, fearing Leech's other work was slowing him down, diplomatically asked him to pass the last illustration, the dinner in the Great Hall, to Stanfield (who, though not much of a caricaturist, would handle well the architectural elements of the scene). And yet, by December 13th, Dickens still could not send send Mrs. Richard Watson an advance copy, even though Forster probably did not turn over the final proofs in corrected form until about a week previous. Having no rush proofs for the fourth part, Dickens elected to go twenty-nine pages without a single illustration.

To make matters more complicated, Dickens was supplying Mark Lemon with proofs to facilitate the staging of The Haunted Man. Certainly, this break-neck schedule was probably more hectic than the measured routine Dickens followed with monthly serial instalments. Robert Patten contends that Chapman and Hall's decision to reduce the ratio of illustrations to pages of text from 4:32 to 2:32 in The Pickwick Papers, their first venture with Dickens, freed the young writer from his original role as a mere commentator on Robert Seymour's illustrations and thereby reversed the importance of writer and artist — and concomitantly the stipend paid to each: "At a single stroke something permanent and novel-like. . . was created out of something ephemeral and episodic: with sixteen pages between pictures, Dickens could expand his scenes and amplify his characterizations in ways he could not when he had to invent a new comic climax every six pages" (65). However, The Haunted Man had seventeen illustrations in 188 pages, a ratio of approximately 1:12, which seems not to have restricted Dickens, possibly because, as his correspondence makes clear, he had control over the illustrations.

Related Materials

Illustrations for The Haunted Man (1848-1912)


Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man; or, The Ghost's Bargain. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.

_____. The Haunted Man. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. (1848). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978. II, 235-362, 365-366.

_____. The Haunted Man. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. (1848). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978. II, 235-362, 365-366.

Glancy, Ruth. "Dickens at Work on The Haunted Man." Dickens Studies Annual 15 (1986): 65-85.

Guida, Fred. "A Christmas Carol" and Its Adaptations: Dickens's Story on Screen and Television. London & Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.

Parker, David. Dickens and Christmas. New York: AMS Press, 2005.

Patten, Robert. Charles Dickens and His Publishers. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978.

Solberg, Sarah. "'Text Dropped into the Wooidcuts': Dickens's Christmas Books." Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 103-118.

Created 22 April 2020