This is the first instalment of Elizabeth Gaskell’s fourth novel North and South, which was published in 20 weekly instalments in the journal Household Words. The first instalment comprised the novel’s first two chapters, and appeared in the issue of Household Words dated 2 September 1854.
North and South and the serial form
Many Victorian novels, like North and South, were originally published in serial form, in journals such as Household Words and the Cornhill. Household Words was edited by Charles Dickens and was the place of first publication of his own Hard Times, as well as two of Wilkie Collins’s novels.
Some writers, like Dickens, relished the challenge of writing for serialisation, introducing cliff-hangers to thrill their readers and maintain sales. Others, like Gaskell, found the serial form a constraint. She wanted to write 22 episodes of North and South rather than 20, and struggled to meet deadlines. Dickens, too, was dissatisfied with her work. Household Words saw a drop in sales in the autumn of 1854, which he blamed on Gaskell’s novel. Today, however, North and South is one of her most admired works.