Having decided that the first book to be read and discussed by our new Classic Book Group would be a Dickens novel, and having specified that we wouldn’t choose a book that was longer than 500 pages in a standard edition, we needed to work out how long Dickens’ novels actually are.
Fortunately most of the work has already been done. Norman Geras in his blog reproduced a list showing the number of words in each novel. A list which had originally been posted by DailyDickens on Twitter.
Since we wanted know how many pages the number of words represented we chose the 1984 Penguin Classics edition of “Our Mutual Friend” as a baseline. The book, excluding introduction and bibliography comprised 851 pages, and contained 327,727 words This works out at about 385 words per page. We used this as the benchmark to calculate how many pages there are in each of Dickens’ novels.
|Title||Words||Estimated Pages||Date Published|
|David Copperfield||357,489||929||1849 to 1850|
|Dombey and Son||357,484||929||1846 to 1848|
|Bleak House||355,936||925||1852 to 1853|
|Little Dorritt||339,870||883||1855 to 1857|
|Martin Chuzzlewit||338,007||878||1843 to 1844|
|Our Mutual Friend||327,727||851||1864 to 1865|
|Nicholas Nickleby||323,722||841||1838 to 1839|
|The Pickwick Papers||302,190||785||1836 to 1837|
|The Old Curiosity Shop||218,538||568||1840 to 1841|
|Great Expectations||186,339||484||1860 to 1861|
|Oliver Twist||158,631||412||1837 to 1839|
|A Tale of Two Cities||137,000||356||1859|
|The Mystery of Edwin Drood||96,178||250||1870 (Unfinished)|
Based on this table we decided that “A Tale of Two Cities” would be our chosen book for the first meeting at Harbury Village Library at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 22nd October.