Our Mutual Friend

  • Norman Page
Part of the Macmillan Literary Companions book series (LICOM)


Composition Nearly three years passed between the completion of the serialization of Great Expectations and the first number of Our Mutual Friend. Dickens’ rate of production of his novels had slowed down markedly since the earlier part of his career — partly, perhaps, because he was getting older and suffering periods of ill-health as well as family anxieties, but also because he was expending much of his energy on his weekly magazine All the Year Round, his public readings, and his regular Christmas stories, and not least importantly because composition had become for him a slower, more painful and deliberate process. According to Forster, he had devised the title of the novel as early as 1861, and he wrote to Forster in the same year indicating what were to turn out to be some of its main elements:

I think a man, young and perhaps eccentric, feigning to be dead, and being dead to all intents and purposes external to himself, and for a few years retaining the singular view of life and character so imparted, would be a good leading incident for a story …. A poor impostor of a man marrying a woman for her money; she marrying him for his money; after marriage both finding out their mistake, and entering into a league and covenant against folk in general; with whom I propose to connect some Perfectly New People … I must use somehow the uneducated father in fustian and the educated boy in spectacles whom Leech and I saw at Chatham.


Great Ormond Street Hospital Public Reading Versus Eneerings Weekly Magazine Family Anxiety 
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© Norman Page 1984

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  • Norman Page

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