08/02/2023

Dickens /Magazine /Master Humphrey’s Clock

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Master Humphrey’s Clock – 1840-1841 – a weekly magazine


First edition in 1840

This weekly periodical ran from 4 Apr 1840 – 4 Dec 1841. It was written and edited by Charles Dickens.

Illustrations in the volumes were by George Cattermole, Hablot Browne (better known as ‘Phiz’), Daniel Maclise and Samuel Williams. It was published by Chapman and Hall.



The name is derived from Master Humphrey’s habit of keeping his manuscripts in an antique longcase (or grandfather) clock.
The original short story published in the periodical introduces Master Humphrey and his small circle of friends, who enjoy telling stories. The group consists of Master Humphrey, a deaf gentleman, Jack Redburn, a retired merchant Owen Miles and Mr Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers.

In fact, Master Humphrey’s Clock brought back some old friends from The Pickwick Papers. Sam Weller, for example, who runs a parallel club, called Mr Wellers Watch from the kitchen. the contributors are Weller himself, Humphrey’s maid and the barber.

After initial success sales slumped and The Old Curiosity Shop was introduced to help. The Old Curiosity Shop started out as a short story and so Master Humphrey is its narrator for the first three chapters. The success led to The Old Curiosity Shop taking over the magazine and the periodical sold one hundred thousand copies.

As The Old Curiosity Shop finished Barnaby Rudge was published in Master Humphrey’s Clock alongside a series of short stories. When it finished so did Master Humphrey’s Clock, and Master Humphrey was killed as a character.

Master Humphrey’s Clock contained several stand-alone stories:
·       First Night of the Giant Chronicles, 11 Apr 1840
·      A Confession Found in a Prison in the Time of Charles the Second, 18 Apr 1840
·      Mr Pickwick’s Tale, 2 and 9 May 1840

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