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Dickens' Fur Coat And Charlotte's Unanswered Letters: The Rows And Romances Of England's Great Victorian Novelists

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  182 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but most of all, as Daniel Pool reveals in this delightful new book, it was a time of surprisingly outrageous behavior. "Dickens' Fur Coat" and "Charlotte's Unanswered Letters" plunks the reader down in the middle of the London book world to expose the madcap shenanigans, rows, rivalries and general mayhem perpetrated by ...more
Published May 1st 1997 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1997)
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Mark Stratton
By necessity, this glosses over many details yet was still an interesting overview of the rise of the Novel and Novelist in England during the 19th Century. The focus, of course, is on Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters (Charlotte in particular) as well as Trollope, Thackery and "George Eliott" (and now I want to read 'Middlemarch') but also the publishers of the time. What was truly interesting to me was learning about how the Subscription Libraries drove the business model of the era for f ...more
Brenda Clough
A quick and dirty overview of the literary scene in the Victorian period. Mildly interesting, but you would get mere depth from biographies of any of the principals -- Tennyson, Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray.
Jul 06, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is deceptively titled but still a great read. It's about the growth and transitions of the Victorian era book, publisher and author. The traditional novel was a "three decker" named after a sailing ship. The novels were published in 3 volumes at least since the time of Scott and Austen. Dickens and his magazine publishers created a new format for the novel. The serialization of chapters published and then collected into a single book was new format. Publishers as a rule had a back room ...more
Apr 01, 2014 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pool's earlier book, "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew" is an indispensable reference for anyone who has read or who looks forward to reading Edwardian or Victorian novels. I was expecting an equally instructive and interesting experience with this book.

But-- disappointed. The subtitle says it all, in that the subtitle is quite inaccurate. This book may touch on some of the "Rows and Romances of England's Great Victorian Novelists" but its proper subtitle ought to be "A Brief Histo
Aug 12, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
This book is like The National Enquirer meets Masterpiece Theater and is a wonderfully engaging read! Learning about the "scandalous" lives of some of classical literature's greatest authors was both entertaining and enlightening. I'll never think about Dickens or the Bronte sisters the same way again!
Moira Fogarty
This book moved along well in the first two-thirds, where Pool focused on his main object: writing juicy, gossipy biographies of the great authors of the Victorian era. His description of the social connections, passions and rivalries between Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, the Bronte sisters and other big names in publishing, bookselling and writing in the mid-1800s is a pleasure to read.

Towards the end of the book, Pool struggles to show a clear movement in the direction of the tastes and m
Nov 17, 2013 Cat. rated it liked it
Lots of minutiae about Dickens and the Brontës along with Thackeray, Eliot, Hardy, Trollope and all the "lesser lights." I remember learning in high school that Dickens dumped his wife (my term, by the way); this gets into some more detail, but not much. I still don’t get it completely, and it’s shocking that Victorian novelists as a whole were apparently less concerned with propriety: Dickens leaves his wife to hang about with an actress much younger than he, Thackeray put his wife in an asylum ...more
Oct 01, 2010 Meaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, read-in-2010
I had thought, judging from the title and dust jacket description, that this would just be a book of juicy, entertaining gossip about Victorian novelists. Well, certainly there was a lot of that in there -- did you know William Thackeray had a crazy wife he had to keep locked up? -- but this book is ever so much more than that.

It covers the development of the Victorian novel and the publishing industry over the 19th century. In the early 1800s, public libraries in England were nonexistent. Books
Mikiel Ottmar
Very interesting and entertaining. For a history buff it offers a bit of everything. The research is outstanding and he brings it all together in a wonderful read. What evolved in the Victorian age with novels is incomparable and thank goodness for all of those forward looking writers and publishers. I've pulled off my shelves several of the novels mentioned which will take me through the rest of the winter and into spring. mikiel
Dacia Wilkinson
Feb 11, 2014 Dacia Wilkinson rated it it was amazing
My first literary influence was Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte and her sisters have always fascinated me - the title of this book caused me to purchase it, and now I have to say, I'm going to reread Dickens. Thackerey too. Nice tone. Good information. Thrilling to recognize trends in entertainment even "then" ... :). Marked it all up with my pen, dog-earred pages, and broke the spine in ... Was good. :)
Kayla Tornello
This book explores the lives of the famous Victorian authors. It also explains how they were influenced in their writings by the society in which they lived. Some parts of this book were very fascinating and I wanted to like it, but then other parts seemed as dry as a school history book and I was bored.
Aug 23, 2015 Joan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected from the title/subtitle, but interesting nonetheless. A compact look at the world of the Victorian novelists and publishers, with emphasis on Dickens, Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, and George Eliot.
An intriguing book about famous (and a few not so famous) Victorian authors. I will always treasure this book for introducing me to Anthony Trollope.
Feb 16, 2014 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read about the history of publishing! Although the title of the book seems to suggest scintillating tales about Victorian novelists' private lives, it instead provides a historical account of how the novel as we know it today came to be, including the advent of royalties, the business of publishing, and the different tactics used by publishing houses to compete with one another, one of which is what we now know of as tabloid journalism. Author Daniel Pool brings wit and intelligence to ...more
Much more of a history of 19th century publishing in England than the lives of Victorian writers. Interesting, but a misleading title.
Not quite as interesting to me as its predecessor, but still quite informative and intriguing.
Sandra Strange
You wouldn't think that the history of publishing in 19th C England and the development of the Victorian novel would serve up fascinating reading, but it does in this chronicle of people all of us have studied--including Dickens, the Brontes, Thackery, Gaskell, Eliot (George). Gossipy, but well documented, the book paints portraits of these novelists, as well as their publishers, as real people motivated by the desire for money and glory, religious fervor, pride and love. Fascinating, fun and in ...more
Oct 28, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a perfect example if why one should wait to rate a book for a few days after finishing. When I first finished the book, I thought it was interesting but didn't really feel strongly about it. However, as a few days have gone by I have thought back on it more than I expected and realized what an excellent book it is on a topic I knew little about. Whil appearing, from the title, to be little more than Victorian gossip it's rather a work on the beginnings of "the novel" and its move fr ...more
Catty K
Oct 26, 2011 Catty K rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off extremely dry and boring. While it was full of information about the history of both novels and literary magazines, the first half of the book lacked much of the scandals the title advertized. I gave up a little more than halfway through, and spotted mentions of drug use and failed affairs while flipping through the remaining pages, but at that point I had lost patience with the book and couldn't bring myself to continue reading :(
Feb 08, 2010 Ami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading about all of my favorite (and least favorite) authors. It was like a Victorian soap opera in word form, and I got to enjoy all the scandal, disease, and gossip while simultaneously feeling educated and intelligent. I thought it was better than Daniel Pool's previous book, "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew." (And that book was very interesting.)
Invaluable if you read any British Victorian writers.
Jun 12, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I enjoyed this book. It's a lovely compendium of facts of daily life in 19th century England and an entertaining social history. Lots of interesting stuff, and the reader comes away with a much better grasp of the world that Dickens and Jane Austen, and their contemporary authors, lived in, and wrote about.
Mar 04, 2010 Marty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For any one who loves 19th century writers - Dickson, Austen, Trollope, Hardy, this is a must read about their lives and the process of publication - what went on at the time of their writings. Lots of books are mentioned, and I have read most of them, so it was more than a readers guide with no relevance.
May 12, 2011 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book depressed the crap out of me (mostly reading about Charlotte Brontë's unrequited crushes), but other parts were very interesting and funny. The most astonishing part was reading about William Makepeace Thackeray telling penis jokes to poor little Ms. Brontë!
Jul 08, 2009 Tammy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 30 pages are fascinating on how England's Victorian novels were written. Some biography and stories of how Dicken's Pickwick, Oliver Twist and Nickleby came to be written. Cant put it down.
Apr 05, 2010 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love knowing some of the personal history behind the Victorian authors and how that whole genre came into being. It is my favorite period reading but then I have British blood in me, so maybe it's generic.
Jul 26, 2008 Hh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Factual but not too dry --lots of facts I never cared to know and will never remember about various Victorian authors, but a fairly interesting description of the interactions between Dickens and Thackeray.
Aug 18, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vic-crit
An engaging and enlightening education on the publishing industry in nineteenth-century London, from the Brontes to Thackeray. Too bad it's too informal to cite in scholarly papers!
Nov 19, 2010 Cat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
If you have any interest in any of the great nineteenth century English authors,Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, and more, this is the book to read. Very enlightening and a fun read.
Very enjoyable. Don't know why I have never picked up "What Jane Austen Ate . . . " given that it has been sitting on my bookshelf for more than a decade.
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Daniel Pool has spent most of his adult life teaching and practicing law in New York City. His first book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (Simon & Schuster, 1993) has sold more than 80,000 copies. It was an alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, QualityPaperback Book Club, and the History Book Club, as is his second book, Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered ...more
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