The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (also known as The Pickwick Papers) is Charles Dickens's first novel. He was asked to contribute to the project as an up-and-coming writer following the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1836 (most of Dickens' novels were issued in shilling instalments before being published as complete volumes). Dickens (still writing under the pseudonym of Boz) increasingly took over the unsuccessful monthly publicatio after the original illustrator Robert Seymour had committed suicide. With the introduction of Sam Weller in chapter 10, the book became the first real publishing phenomenon, with bootleg copies, theatrical performances, Sam Weller joke books, and other merchandise. After the publication, the widow of Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any specific input, writing that "Mr Seymour never originated or suggested an incident, a phrase, or a word, to be found in the book." 'One of my life's greatest tragedies is to have already read Pickwick Papers - I can't go back and read it for the first time' Fernando Pessoa Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers - a comic masterpiece that catapulted its twenty-four-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle and, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, and his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtors' prison, characters and incidents spring to life from Dickens's pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour and literary invention. This edition is based on the first volume edition of 1837, and includes the original illustrations. In his introduction, Mark Wormald discusses the genesis of The Pickwick Papers and the emergence of its central characters.