"Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript had been purloined"
Illustration from 1867 US edition of Martin Chuzzlewit,
Public DomainIllustration from 1867 US edition of Martin Chuzzlewit, "Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley" - Credit: Solomon Eytinge Jr

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a novel by Charles Dickens.  Dickens believed Martin Chuzzlewit was his best work, but it was not a very popular novel.  The story was serialized and released in monthly installments during 1843-44. Early sales of the installments were disappointing. In an effort to drum up interest, Dickens changed the plot to send Chuzzlewitt to America. Dickens had visited the US in 1842. His novel treated the country satirically, portraying it as a wild place, with pockets of civilization filled with con-artists.  He mocked American manners and portrayed American people as snobs, hypocrites, liars, bores, and bullies.  When the installments containing the offending chapters were published in the US, they were greeted with a 'frenzy of wrath' – Dickens received a great deal of abusive mail from annoyed Americans. 

Charles Dickens
Public DomainCharles Dickens - Credit: Project Gutenberg

Dickens was surprised by the vitriol – observing that his novels about England were similarly satirical and critical of prevailing social norms.  He was however moved to include a Postscript in 1868 edition of the novel, expressing his appreciation of the “national generosity and magnanimity” of the American people, and praising the progression of the country toward urbanisation and urbanity. He also promised to include his testimony to the goodness and hospitality of America “in every appendix to every copy” of his two books that refer to America.


Charles Dickens on Book Drum