[A note to the author's "A Tale of Two Cities (1859): A Model of the Integration of History and Literature"]

In terms of length, the average monthly instalment of a Dickens novel is 18,500 words, whereas the average weekly instalment of A Tale of Two Cities runs a mere 4700, the total number of weekly parts being 31 and the total number of words 146,500. A Tale's weekly predecessors are as follows: Hard Times (1854) — 17,400; Barnaby Rudge (1841) — 263,650 words; The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) — 227,500 words. Since the average length of one of Dickens's monthly novels is 357,000 words, A Tale of Two Cities is roughly forty per cent of a typical monthly.

The average length of a Dickens novel published in weekly instalments is roughly forty per cent that of a novel published monthly (1126 pages). Since Great Expectations has 59 episodes in as many chapters, and Dombey and Son has 62 episodes in as many chapters, what Dickens cut out of his weekly serialisations was not plot but character, there being only twenty characters in Hard Times, for example.


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

Last modified June 20, 2002

Last modified 8 June 2007