Saturday, March 11, 2006


Charles In Charge

A curious item on eBay -- an original paperbound part-work installment by Dickens, Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy, the last section from the book Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings.

Haven't heard of that one? Nor have most people -- because, for one thing, Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings is not entirely by Dickens. It's an unusual portmanteau of a book, originally issued by Dickens' magazine All the Year Round, comprised of stories by six authors, all about the residents of Mrs. Lirriper's house. Dickens wrote the first and last story in the collection; indeed, when the stories get reissued in print, now they typically jettison the other contributors.

Still, the group that Dickens assembled might be an interesting example for someone to follow. Occasionally you see round-robin novels issued by multiple authors, but there's something really quite brilliant in wedding that to a compartmentalized structure: moving from one resident (and room) to another lends itself perfectly to multiple authors.

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