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  • Positively the Last Appearance:"BOZ" in Advertisements for Dombey and Son
  • William F. Long (bio) and Paul Schlicke (bio)

In this paper we report that Dickens's famous pseudonym survived for a time in publishers' advertisements in association with material which, by then, was itself attributed solely to "Charles Dickens."1

Attribution of Pickwick Papers

In July 1836, "Boz," author of two volumes of selected Sketches with another in preparation and current "editor" of the monthly numbers of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, was revealed to be Charles Dickens.2 By November 1837, as the serial neared its end, Dickens determined that, in volume form, it should carry the authorial name "Charles Dickens." Its publishers, Chapman and Hall, fresh in the trade and evidently happy to accommodate their best-selling author, agreed. Thereafter, with a few minor [End Page 101] exceptions,3 the title pages of all of Dickens's novels carried the words "by Charles Dickens."

Both Dickens and his publishers, nevertheless, were clearly conscious of the attention that the famous pseudonym would attract to any product to which it was attached. In November 1836 Dickens, negotiating the editorship of a new magazine with the publisher Richard Bentley, emphasized "the assistance 'Boz's' name just now, would prove to the circulation" (Letters 1: 190). And a year later, Chapman and Hall, notwithstanding the "Charles Dickens" tag they had attached to the title page of Pickwick, advertised the novel as a work "by Boz."4

Attribution of the Novels after Pickwick

The publishing arrangement for Pickwick – periodic installments "edited by Boz" later gathered to form a novel "by Charles Dickens" – both exploited the commercial attractiveness of the pseudonym and accommodated Dickens's apparent desire to signal his arrival as a fully-fledged author by the use of his patronym. The arrangement set a precedent. Oliver Twist, published monthly "by Boz" in Bentley's Miscellany (itself edited "by Boz"), eventually appeared in three volumes "by Charles Dickens." Nicholas Nickleby and Martin Chuzzlewit, the monthly numbers of both of which bore convoluted titles implying their contents to be assorted material "edited by Boz," were both published in volumes "by Charles Dickens."

In between Nickleby and Chuzzlewit, the (various) part forms of Master Humphrey's Clock bore "by Boz" labels, an attribution which, by implying authorship rather than editorship, it has been suggested, is a signal of the "ambiguity of the conception of the Clock – part miscellany, later mainly novel[s]" (Patten 268). The serial resulted in five volumes. Three, appearing in October 1840, April 1841 and December 1841 respectively, contained sections of the Clock itself; two others, also appearing in December 1841, separately comprised the two novels contained in the work – The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. Authorship of all five volumes was credited to "Charles Dickens."

Thereafter, from Dombey and Son onwards, installments of Dickens's novels, whether appearing individually or contained in one of the weekly [End Page 102] periodicals he later edited, always bore the authorial name "Charles Dickens."5 During the latter part of the 1840s, too, Dickens stopped referring to himself as "Boz" in his correspondence.6

Attribution in Advertisements for the Novels after Pickwick

We now consider the attributions of authorship (or editorship) of Dickens's novels as they were announced in publishers' press advertisements. In the sense that Dickens might be expected to have had influence over the content of these notices, they may be said to be "authorized." In this context it is noteworthy that Dickens was evidently conscious from early in his career of his target markets. On 3 August 1836, he informed the publisher John Macrone that he had agreed to supply sketches (promised to Macrone for a forthcoming volume of a second series of Sketches by Boz) for initial serial appearance in the newly launched Carlton Chronicle:

The circulation I believe is a small one. So much the better – Fewer people will see the Sketches before they are collected. It is all among the nobs too – Better still. They'll buy the book (Letters 1: 160).

And the terms of his formal agreements with Bentley about editing The Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi and with Henry Colburn about editing...


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