Why read novels serially?

Each of the books included in Mousehold Words is also available as a volume, and that is the way they are read today. But serial novels can't help but reflect their original publication, especially where the author was writing just ahead of publication. Popular minor characters became more prominent; popular novels stretched out to incredible length; cliffhangers were introduced to bring readers back for the next chapter, and artful recapitulation reminded them of what they had read the week or month before. Even when reprinted in book form, serial novels still retain these signs of their origin. Reading them in serial, as they were originally intended, helps you understand the books and their readers.

What will you do with my email address?

Mousehold Words will use your email address to send you the subscription you request. We may also send you occasional important emails related to your subscription, although we try to keep those to a minimum. We will not send you any other email, or allow or authorize any third person to do so. Once your subscription is complete, you will receive a single email informing you of that fact and inviting you to begin a new subscription. You will then receive no further email from us. You may cancel your subscription or your account at any time.

How are the texts divided?

Every Mousehold Words text is divided into the same serial parts as in the original serial publication.

To determine the original serial breaks for The Federalist and for the works of John W. De Forest, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H. Rider Haggard, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Jules Verne, I examined the original serial issues or facsimiles of them. The serial breaks for No Name are those given in the Penguin edition, edited by Mark Ford. The serial breaks in the novels of William Harrison Ainsworth, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Wilkie Collins (other than No Name), Charles Dickens, Charles Reade, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope are those given in J. Don Vann’s invaluable Victorian novels in serial (Modern Language Association, 1985).

How are your texts different from the original serials?

In most cases, the texts available online are not derived from the original serial publication, but from the subsequent publication in book form. Often authors edited their texts in between the original serial publication and the volume publication. Generally these edits were minor, but in some cases authors changed their texts significantly between serial publication and volume publication; for example, the ending of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South was substantially changed for the volume publication, with five entirely new chapters being added near the end of the novel.

I have not included novels in the project where it is clear that the text I have is significantly different from the original serial text. However, there are often smaller changes in the text that may not be reflected in the Mousehold Words editions.

In addition, the serial parts were often published with illustrations, which changed the reading experience. Our current editions do not include these illustrations.

Where do your texts come from?

All of the tests used in Mousehold Words are public domain (non-copyrighted) texts, which means that you can forward, copy, print, or otherwise use and transform them in any way you see fit. All of the texts are based on the versions available at Project Gutenberg, except for the text of Charles Reade's Griffith Gaunt, which is used by kind permission of the digitizer, James Rusk.