Charles Dickens invents the soap opera
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On this day in 1859 Charles Dickens published the last weekly instalment of A Tale of Two Cities. The book remains the best-selling novel of all time.
Dickens pioneered the technique of writing by weekly instalments and thus was able to change and modify his stories if he received negative feedback (as for example, he once received from his wife’s chiropodist).
His stories were thus a form of early soap opera, and TV series today, such as EastEnders, owe a certain debt to Dickens. The realism in his stories was often drawn from personal experience, as he had a difficult childhood in poverty, his father being at times in a debtors’ prison.
Today’s poem is by Dickens, though most people consider him a better novelist than a poet, Lucy’s Song:
How beautiful at eventide
To see the twilight shadows pale,
Steal o’er the landscape, far and wide,
O’er stream and meadow, mound and dale!
How soft is Nature’s calm repose
When ev’ning skies their cool dews weep:
The gentlest wind more gently blows,
As if to soothe her in her sleep!
The gay morn breaks,
Mists roll away,
All Nature awakes
To glorious day.
In my breast alone
Dark shadows remain;
The peace it has known
It can never regain.
Today I will do my best to ensure that the story of my life is a good one.