Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited and co-owned by Charles Dickens in the 1850s.
Dickens was a big fan of Shakespeare and nameed it after a line from Henry V “Familiar in his mouth as household words.” The journal contained a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. A large amount of the non-fiction dealt with the social issues of the time and debates about issues such as crime, education and housing.
A Child’s History of England.
A Child’s History of England is a book by Charles Dickens that first appeared in serial form in Household Words, running from January 25 1851 to December 10 1853. Dickens dedicated the book to “My own dear children, whom I hope it may help, bye and bye, to read with interest larger and better books on the same subject”. The history covered the period between 50 BC and 1689, ending with a chapter summarising events from then until the accession of Queen Victoria.
In order to boost slumping sales, Dickens serialized his own novel, Hard Times, in weekly parts between April 1 and August 12, 1854. It had the desired effect, more than doubling the journal’s circulation.
A number of other significant articles written by Charles Dickens were published in Household Words, including the following which you can read at The Circumlocution Office:
- The Amusements of the People (March, 1850). Explored the theatre.
- Red Tape (February, 1851). An article criticizing bureaucracy.
- On Duty with Inspector Field (June, 1851). Looked at the work of Inspector Charles Frederick Field of Scotland Yard.
- A Sleep to Startle Us (March, 1852). Exploring ragged (poor) schooling.
- Londoners over the Border (September, 1857). Described the squalid conditions Dickens found when he visited Canning Town.
Publication of Household Words ended in 1859 following a disagreement between Dickens and his co-owners and publishers, Bradbury and Evans. Dickens response was to set up a new publication, All the Year Round, and take his publishers to court for control of the title (which he later won).