"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Friday, July 17, 2015

Literature in the News: Discovery Identifies Victorian Authors

Wow, this is a big discovery in the literary world.  The authors of previously anonymously authored works published in Charles Dickens’s magazine, All the Year Round, have been identified through the found annotations written by Dickens himself.  From the UK’s The Independent:

It is a discovery that could solve some of the biggest mysteries of Victorian literature.

The authors of thousands of articles, short stories and poems, printed anonymously in a literary magazine edited by Charles Dickens, have finally been revealed after an antiquarian book dealer discovered a bound collection of the periodicals annotated by Dickens himself.

Among the biggest revelations are works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Lewis Carroll and Dickens’ close friend Wilkie Collins, as well as two articles co-written by Dickens.

This is big.  The find stemmed from a purchase by a book collector.

Last September Jeremy Parrott, an academic and book dealer, ordered a 20-volume bound collection of All the Year Round from an online bookseller in Wrexham.

Dr Parrott didn’t open the box of books until December, when he arrived in London from his home in Hungary.

“When I saw the listing of 20 volumes in red cloth with gilt edges for sale I was excited. There was no mention of annotation but when I opened the box and saw the notes it was all my Christmases at once.

“To realise it was Dickens’ own set and his own handwriting revealing who wrote everything was incredible. That has never been public information because the pieces were deliberately published without attribution as Dickens’ name appeared on the top of every page.”

Now that had to be some thrill for Dr. Parrott.  That has to be a scholar’s and book collector’s biggest dream.  It hardly ever happens.  I don’t think we comprehend how rich a find this was.  There are some 400 pieces of literature identified.

The discovery solves the mystery of which Victorian writers were commissioned by Dickens and identifies new works by many leading authors of the time. Dickens’ notes mean that between 300 and 400 authors have been identified as responsible for some 2,500 contributions.

And the literary world is in shock.

The BBC financial broadcaster Paul Lewis, who is also a renowned expert on Wilkie Collins and secretary of the Wilkie Collins Society, was at the conference. He said there were “audible gasps” when the scale of the revelation dawned on the audience of about 50 academics. “Everyone was completely blown away by it. This is the Rosetta Stone of Victorian studies because it gives you the key to what hundreds of people wrote. When this list emerges it will change Victorian scholarship.”

Wonderful!  I can’t wait to see what comes out of this.  There’s so much more at the Independent article, including a initial list of some identified finds.  You should read it.


  1. This is really amazing. I missed this story in The Independent. Ah ... just realised. It is today's edition. I have still to read today's paper. You're faster than me at reading Manny, as always.

    Do you think in future people will marvel at my writings? Especially after the good review you gave one of my books? Can you imagine the Headline in the papers:

    "Manny says Vic is not that bad a writer after all !!!"

    God bless.

    1. Actually it came out on the internet a few days before. There must be a lag between the digital version and the paper version.

      Yes, you're writings will be discovered some day!