Serials and Advertising


Most of Dickens’s novels were first published a few chapters at a time in inexpensive monthly installments, a format known as the “book in parts.” Much Victorian fiction was published serially in periodicals, but Dickens was unusual in that he did not complete his works before publishing began, allowing him to alter his plans based on current events and audience reaction to earlier parts. The format, and Dickens’s popularity, encouraged the inclusion of advertisements in the parts, an innovation in the development of mass-market advertising. This practice began with Dickens’s first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1836-37) and became a standard feature of all of his books in parts thereafter. In some parts the pages of advertisements outnumber the pages of text. Shown here are advertisements from the original parts of David Copperfield (1849-50) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-65).

Charles Dickens: 200 Years of Commerce and Controversy

Rare Book Room Hallway Gallery

Rubenstein Library

Duke University, Durham, NC

On display February 1-April 1, 2012