By Clare Pettitt, Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture at King’s College London
The 5th of June 1846 was a boiling hot day. It was so hot that Elizabeth Barrett, soon to become Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘could do nothing but lie on the sofa and drink lemonade and read Monte Cristo’. She wrote to Robert Browning that she had started ‘“Le Comte de Monte Cristo,” the new book by Dumas, (observe how I waste my time . . .) & really he amuses me . . . six volumes I am glad to see.’ She was not alone: Dumas’s newspaper novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, was everywhere that year. It was running in various languages in serial magazines and abridged in the cheap penny papers across Europe and America. Ralph Waldo Emerson remembered “falling back” on long serial novels by Dumas and Dickens on his voyage to Europe from America in 1847. Dickens’s new novel Dombey and Son was coming out between October 1846 and April 1848 and was eagerly consumed by the literate and semi-literate alike. In the 1840s, then, the print serial had begun to cross languages, countries, classes, and genders. The form was creating new international readerships and a new rhythm of reading.
by Imogen Free Imogen Free is a first year PhD student at King’s College London, researching modernist women’s writing, sound technology and the politics of aurality (1930-1956).
One note held her ears through the hollow thunder of traffic: in shells of buildings the whirr of unanswered telephones. They were insistent Elizabeth Bowen, To the North
In these ‘unprecedented’ times, I’ve been surprised to discover how much I’ve missed the postgraduate research community at King’s. I miss the distinctly un-academic chatter in our research room, sharing coffee with my supervisor, and the strange charm of the floppy triangles of sandwich, with beige fillings of unidentifiable flavour and lukewarm, headache-inducing wine after conferences. Sandwiches aside, it’s been a period in which we’ve been reflecting on how our institutions can support their students and staff and it’s been a lonely, uncertain, distressing time for many reasons other than the pandemic. But I have also been fortunate enough to participate in some of the changes the research community have had to make in order to stay in contact and find modes of communion with one another, as we become ever more reliant on the medium of telecommunication.
by Harriet Thompson, PhD candidate in the English department at King’s College London.
William John Johnston’s Lightning Flashes and Electric Dashes is a volume of late nineteenth-century American fiction comprised of ‘contributions from the pens of all the prominent writers in the ranks of telegraphic literature’. Johnston was himself a telegraph operator, as well as a publisher, and editor of the profession’s leading trade journal ‘The Operator’. He published a number of notable works of telegraphic literature by women telegraphers, including Ella Cheever Thayer’s novel Wired Love and short fictional works by Lida Churchill and Josie Schofield.