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Before Boz: The Juvenilia and Early Writings of Charles Dickens, 1820–1833

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Works that constitute Dickens's juvenilia and early writings include poems (“Acrostic,” “The Devil's Walk,” “The Churchyard,” “Lodgings to Let,” and “The Bill of Fare”), plays (possibly The Stratagems of Rozanza and definitely O'Thello), and nonfiction (“Private Theatricals Regulations”). Yet these works neither constitute all of Dickens's earliest surviving written output nor represent all the types of writing he undertook before the publication of his first sketch, later identified as written by Boz, in December 1833. Dickens also wrote letters, recorded accounting entries with their descriptions in Ellis and Blackmore's Cash Account Book, and transcribed his own shorthand notes of the court cases Jarman vs. Bagster, and Jarman vs. Wise.

“Before Boz” collects and annotates Dickens's first two known letters, some sample entries from the Cash Account Book, and the full texts of what has survived among the balance of the writings identified above. Dickens's other letters through November 1833 are, of course, found in the Pilgrim Edition. “Before Boz“ also includes six appendices of related texts from Tobias Smollett, Walter Dexter, Oliver Goldsmith, Eugène Scribe, Germain Delavigne, William Mickle, Thomas Moore, anonymous ballads, and Charles Dickens himself. Finally, a seventh appendix provides the texts of works falsely attributed to young Dickens by John Payne Collier.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Founded in 1970, the centennial anniversary of Dickens's death, DSA has been published since 1980 by AMS Press in cooperation with the Ph.D. program in English of the City University of New York and in association with the Graduate Center, CUNY and Queens College, CUNY. Besides presenting articles exploring the wide range of Dickens''s interests and talents, DSA also includes essays on other mid- and late- nineteenth-century authors and on the history and aesthetics of the period's fiction. In addition, each volume contains a substantial review article examining a prior year's scholarship on Dickens, and DSA occasionally publishes surveys of work on other Victorian writers, as well as review essays considering specialized studies of subjects in Victorian fiction. The editors seek to offer essays of "the most diverse kinds," those employing innovative as well as traditional approaches.
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