The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Old Curiosity Shop

OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, a novel by Charles Dickens, written in 1840-41, as a serial for Master Humphrey's Clock, a weekly periodical based on the model of Addison's Spectator, to publish short stories, essays and miscellaneous papers. In the fourth number, acceding to the public request for another “long story,” Dickens commenced the ‘Old Curiosity Shop.’ It is a novel of a difficult trend with an involved plot. The character of Little Nell stands out as that of a precocious child of inherited tendencies in a somewhat overdrawn exhibition of pious seriousness and long submissive suffering, which plays upon the sympathy and emotions of sentimental readers. Jeffrey and Landor, however, compared the delineation of this character to that of Cordelia. The story is relieved by the lively wit of Dick Swiveler, the Marchioness, Quilp and the description of the wandering Bohemians which maintain the best characteristics of the humor Dickens had originated in the ‘Pickwick Papers’; ‘Nicholas Nickleby,’ etc.