The story revolves around the firm Dombey and Son and its central character, Mr. Paul Dombey. A widower with two children, Dombey only considers his son, also called Paul, to be worthy of his attention. But Master Dombey is weak and ill, a fate that will shatter his fathers’ dreams of an heir to the business.
Dombey and Son was originally published in 19 monthly instalments between October 1846 and April 1848. Each cost one shilling (except for the last, which cost two shillings, being a double issue) and contained 32 pages of text with two illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne. It was first published in one complete volume in 1848.
Charles Dickens travelled abroad to begin writing Dombey and Son, living in Switzerland and Paris having resigned his editorship of The Daily News. In late January 1846 he wrote to his best friend John Forster expressing his desire:
I have been revolving plans in my mind this morning for quitting the paper and going abroad again to write a new book in shilling numbers.
Letter to John Forster, 30 January 1846.
At the time of writing Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens was busy with a number of other projects. This included helping the immensely wealthy Angela Burdett-Coutts with the setting up of a ragged school for the poor and with the setting up of a home for prostitutes at Urania Cottage, Shepherds Bush.
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