Dickens wrote fourteen and a half novels, the half being the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood. He wrote eight before and four and a half after our two texts. The first novel was The Pickwick Papers (serialised 1836–1837). This began as a series of loosely connected anecdotes about Mr. Pickwick, but the stories were increasingly extended through several episodes. Dickens was leaning towards full-length narrative. At the same time, with Pickwick and the other club members, and the enormously popular Sam Weller, he was developing his brand of comical characterisation. Oliver Twist was serialised from 1837 to 1839, overlapping with Pickwick. The pathetic little hero, colourful band of boy-thieves, terrifying villains Fagin and Sykes, and sacrificial heroine Nancy, were all larger than life. Like Pickwick, this novel achieved instant popularity, and these two established Dickens’s reputation.
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