Dombey and Son was originally published in 19 monthly instalments between October 1846 and April 1848. Each cost one shilling (except for the last, which cost two shillings, being a double issue) and contained 32 pages of text with two illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne.
Charles Dickens travelled abroad to begin writing Dombey and Son, living in Switzerland and Paris having resigned his editorship of The Daily News. In late January 1846 he wrote to his best friend John Forster expressing his desire:
I have been revolving plans in my mind this morning for quitting the paper and going abroad again to write a new book in shilling numbers.
Letter to John Forster, 30 January 1846.
At the time of writing Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens was busy with another of other projects. This included helping the immensly wealthy Angela Burdett-Coutts with the setting up of a ragged school for the poor and with the setting up of a home for prostitutes at Urania Cottage, Shepherds Bush.
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