How long are Dickens’ novels

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
Barnaby Rudge 255,229 663 1841
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
Hard Times 104,821 272 1854
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.

Tale of Two Cities


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