Martin Chuzzlewit - Published in monthly parts Jan 1843 - July 1844
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Dickens sixth novel, written after taking a year off during which he visited America for the first time, was less than enthusiastically received. The novel deals with the greed of Old Martin's relatives, chiefly Mr. Pecksniff, hoping to inherit his wealth.
In the sixth installment, hoping to fend off lagging sales, Dickens has young Martin Chuzzlewit, the old man's grandson, go off to America. Dickens goes on to vent some of his ill feelings for the former colony he recently visited, American audiences were outraged.
In preparing installments of Martin Chuzzlewit Dickens began developing a design for the entire novel in advance of the monthly numbers. This represents a change from his early novels and is further developed in his next novel, Dombey and Son.
During the writing of Martin Chuzzlewit, and sales of the monthly parts disappointingly low, Dickens was experiencing financial difficulty. He had borrowed from his publishers for his American trip in 1842 and his wife Kate was expecting their fifth child. He responded by planning a small book for the Christmas season of 1843 which followed the theme of greed he was writing in Martin Chuzzlewit. The result was the classic A Christmas Carol, published in December 1843.
Even among the bizarre cast of characters in Dickens, Mrs Gamp is a piece of work. She is a nurse of sorts whose specialty lies in the polar extremities of life, the lying in and the laying out.