Visual Impairment IconHigh Contrast

All the Year Round, A Weekly Journal

1859-1895

Short Fiction Titles

Overview

In 1859, All the Year Round was born as the successor to Charles Dickens' earlier periodical, Household Words after a legal disagreement between Dickens and his publishers. As sole proprietor of All the Year Round, Dickens acted as his own publisher and head editor alongside sub-editor, W. H. Wills, until 1870, when the periodical was inherited by Dickens’ son, Charley Dickens Jr.  Reportage and fiction published in its pages was heavily edited by Dickens to reflect a distinctly bright, Dickensian style and perspective.1John Drew, “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture An Uncommercial Proposition?: At Work on ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round,’” Victorian Periodicals Review. The John Hopkins University Press, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2013, 302-310. Online Edition. Using this style, he successfully appealed to a family readership that included both the literary middle-class and the less-educated working-class.2Richard Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900. Ohio:Ohio State University Press, 1998: 347. Extremely popular, the periodical sold widely, including internationally in the United States.

Within the field of periodicals, All the Year Round played an important role in normalizing the serialization of literary fiction. Although early forms of serial stories had begun growing in popularity decades earlier, many were critical of its strong association with “penny dreadfuls,” and other forms of cheap, working-class literature.3Beth Palmer, “Prose” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 138-140: 139. However, because of Charles Dickens’ authority as a literary storyteller, his choice to serialize high-quality fiction in his journals allowed serialization to gain acceptance among middle-class readers.4Beth Palmer, “Prose” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 138-140: 140.

There was no standard list of items for inclusion in every edition, and amidst the median six items in each issue, All the Year Round also published poetry, politically-liberal narrative essays, and educational articles for laymen.5John Drew, “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture, An Uncommercial Proposition?: At Work on ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round,’” Victorian Periodicals Review. The John Hopkins University Press, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2013, 294. Online Edition. Usually, an episode from a three volume novel or long-form story (published in four or more installments) was prominently featured as the first article in each weekly issue of All the Year Round; however, many of its serial pieces can also be categorized as short fiction. In fact, on average, short fiction occupied five times more pages in All the Year Round than long-form fiction. This short fiction was designed to educate and provide respite from life’s harsher realities, and spanned genres from detective fiction to women’s love stories. As with long-form fiction, these stories were carefully selected on literary merit, and were often penned by highly-esteemed writers such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. Once approved by Dickens, authors published in All the Year Round often became regular contributors, and some, acquaintances of Dickens, wrote stories entirely on commission.6“W.H. Wills to Patterson, November 3, 1859.” All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1850-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library.

Despite its popularity, All the Year Round’s design remained plain and unillustrated for the first decade, largely in an effort to look professional.7Ella Oppenlander. Dickens’ “All Year Round”: Descriptive Index and Contributors List. Troy, New York: Whitson, 1984: 31. In keeping with this same goal, Dickens and his sub-editor, W.H. Wills, carefully examined paper purchased for printing to ensure uniform quality.8“W.H. Wills to Peter S. Fraser, February 28, 1860.” All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1850-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library: 81. On the first page, its simple masthead included a bolded title, followed by the tag, “conducted by Charles Dickens.” Above this ran a quotation from Shakespeare: “The story of our lives from year to year.” Dickens eventually redesigned this masthead to feature large, elaborate typography and floral illustrations symbolizing the four seasons. For readers, the conservative appearance of All the Year Round was more than recompensed by the exciting fiction published therein.9Deborah Wynne. The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001: 24.

Journal Editors

Further Reading

"All the Year Round." The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, Series 2. Ed. John S. North. North Waterloo Academic Press, 2003. Online edition.

All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1850-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library.

Altick, Richard. The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900. Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1998.

Brake, Laurel. “Markets, Genres, Iterations” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 246.

Dalziel, Margaret. Popular Fiction 100 Years Ago. London: Cohen and West, 1957.

Demoor, Marysa. “Editors and the Eighteenth-Century Press” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 89-101.

Drew, John. “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture An Uncommercial Proposition?: At Work on ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round,’” Victorian Periodicals Review. The John Hopkins University Press, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2013, 291-316. “Online Edition.”

---. “All the Year Round.” Dickens Journals Online. The University of Buckingham, 2009.

---. "All the Year Round (1859-1895)." Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland. Gen. Eds. Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor. Gent and London: Academia Press and The British Library, 2009. 11.

Fitzgerald, Memories of Charles Dickens. Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith, 1913.

“W.H. Wills to Peter S. Fraser,” February 28, 1860. All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1859-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library, 81.

Lohrli, Anne. Household Words: A Weekly Journal 1850-1859 Conducted by Charles Dickens — Table of Contents, List of Contributors and Their Contributions Based on The Household Words Office Book in the Morris L. Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists, Princeton University Library. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.

Olsen, Stephanie. “Men and the Periodical Press” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 253.

Oppenlander, Ella. Dickens’ “All Year Round”: Descriptive Index and Contributors List. Troy, New York: Whitson, 1984.

Palmer, Beth. “Prose” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 138-140.

Peterson, Linda H. “Writing For Periodicals” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 81.

Phegley, Jennifer. “Family Magazines” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 291-292.

Wynne, Deborah. The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001.

Editors

Posted

5 September 2016.

Last modified

19 September 2021.

Notes

Notes
1 John Drew, “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture An Uncommercial Proposition?: At Work on ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round,’” Victorian Periodicals Review. The John Hopkins University Press, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2013, 302-310. Online Edition.
2 Richard Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900. Ohio:Ohio State University Press, 1998: 347.
3 Beth Palmer, “Prose” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 138-140: 139.
4 Beth Palmer, “Prose” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, New York: Routledge, 2016, 138-140: 140.
5 John Drew, “2011 Michael Wolff Lecture, An Uncommercial Proposition?: At Work on ‘Household Words’ and ‘All the Year Round,’” Victorian Periodicals Review. The John Hopkins University Press, Vol. 46, No. 3, 2013, 294. Online Edition.
6 “W.H. Wills to Patterson, November 3, 1859.” All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1850-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library.
7 Ella Oppenlander. Dickens’ “All Year Round”: Descriptive Index and Contributors List. Troy, New York: Whitson, 1984: 31.
8 “W.H. Wills to Peter S. Fraser, February 28, 1860.” All the Year Round Letterbook, Press copies of letters by Charles Dickens, William H. Wills, Charles Dickens, Jr., 1850-59, California: Henry E. Huntington Library: 81.
9 Deborah Wynne. The Sensation Novel and the Victorian Family Magazine, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001: 24.