Digitizations of Dickens’s draft material, including drafts of literature and publicity material 5

Four manuscripts and manuscript fragments were digitized by the students of ENG337: a fragment of the handwritten manuscript of the 1846-8 novel Dombey and Son (H1); the original autograph (handwritten) manuscript of his obituary of his friend Clarkson Stanfield, the recipient of many of the digitized letters (H2); an announcement of a reading of the 1849-50 novel David Copperfield (H9); and a galley proof of pages 33 and 34 of the 1866 short story Mugby Junction (H10).

The Dombey and Sons manuscript contains Dickens’s signature and the date and location in which it was written. It contains neatly written lines and no editorial markings, which sets it apart from the other three, and might suggest that it was the final holograph version before being printed in type.

The second manuscript is a hand-written obituary honouring Clarkson Stanfield. Here, we see pieces of paper that have been cut and reassembled, evident by the overlapping seams as well as the numbering of the different pieces on either the front or back of the paper. This could speak to one technique he might have used to compose his first drafts: by writing paragraphs that were divided and rearranged to fit the narrative. In addition to this, the manuscript shows clear scribbles that cross out words or sentences, again showing that this is an early draft.

The third manuscript is an announcement of readings, with alterations made by hand. Here, Dickens has crossed out the novels announced (David Copperfield and ‘Mr. Bob Sawyer’s Party’, a selection from The Pickwick Papers), and added that he would instead read Nicholas Nickleby and ‘The Trial’ from Pickwick.

The final manuscript is a fragment of a galley proof of Mugby Junction with manuscript edits and corrections, such as crossed-out words and phrases, symbols and replacement words in the margins, and entire crossed out sections and paragraphs. A galley proof is the final test print before a document is mass printed, when the type is still a small tray that is known as a galley before being placed into the press. In other words, this manuscript shows the final edit of parts of Mugby Junction before it went into print. Thus, all four manuscripts show glimpses of how Charles Dickens worked, with elements of his handwriting from what could possibly be a first draft (H2), a handwritten manuscript (H1), final edits to a manuscript (H10), and corrections to reading announcements after the work has been published (H9).