David Copperfield Working Notes

Lead editor: Frankie Goodenough

Explore the Notes

Explore Dickens's Working Notes for David Copperfield and read our Editorial Annotations in Mirador.

Image of Working Notes page

How to cite:

The Working Note transcriptions for David Copperfield (MLA): Dickens, Charles. “David Copperfield Working Notes,” transcribed and edited by Adam Grener and Frankie Goodenough. Digital Dickens Notes Project. Anna Gibson and Adam Grener, dirs. 2022. Web. http://dickensnotes.com/notes/david-copperfield/mirador/

Editorial Annotations and Introduction Coming Early 2023

David Copperfield was published serially in twenty monthly parts by Bradbury & Evans from May 1849 to November 1850. Following Dombey and Son (1846-48), it is the second novel for which Dickens kept a complete set of Working Notes. These Notes are now bound with the manuscript of the novel, which is kept in the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The only exception is the Working Note for the novel’s first number, which was removed from the manuscript for use in John Forster’s Life of Charles Dickens, published from 1872-1874; this sheet is bound in the “Forster MSS.,” kept in the same library.

David Copperfield first serial installment cover
David Copperfield No. I (May 1849)

The DDNP’s editorial annotations and introduction to the Working Notes will draw particular attention to the uniquely autobiographical nature of the novel—which shaped aspects of the novel from its complex titling to its formal development across serial installments—as well as to Dickens’s evolving use of the Working Note system. In particular, the Working Notes for Copperfield demonstrate Dickens’s use of the Notes to retroactively record features of completed numbers but also to take an increasingly rigorous, disciplined and proactive compositional approach as the novel’s serial run drew to a close.