The financial and critical success of Pickwick Papers, like its creation of an enormous mass audience, would not have been possible without newly invented aspects of print technology, including paper-making machines and high-speed presses. Nontheless, as Robert L. Patten and Richard D. Altick point out, a number of other factors also enabled this work virtually to invent the Victorian audience and the forms of fiction it read. These include
- an enormous increase in population
- a concomittant rise of urban areas
- increase in real wages
- growth of middle (and especially professional) classes
- steady increase in literacy
- impulses to self-improvement, both spiritual and material increasing leisure time
- improvement in transportation, leading to wider national and internation markets.
Altick, Richard D. . The English Common Reader.
Patten, Robert L. Charles Dickens and His Publishers. Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1978.
Last modified December 2003