Cover of serial, "Little Dorrit" by Charles Dickens

The aim of Dickens Search is to provide access to the entire known body of writing produced by Charles Dickens, including all novels, serials, short stories, journalism, plays, poetry and speeches. This database, still in development, will offer keyword search, topic modelling, Ngram search, and other data visualisations of Dickens's works.

For nineteenth century researchers, partnerships between online databases like HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and Google Books and archivists at various institutions have revolutionised access to obscure or little-known texts. Other databases like Nineteenth Century Collections Online remain behind a paywall, but also supplement or expand an author’s known output. Yet these parts are strewn across databases, as across collections, hindering simple search and comparison. Logically, the next step is to collect digitally the entire work of an author as one central database that supports search and data visualisation functionality across texts, first by mining databases and then coding the resulting transcripts. The sheer breadth and depth of Dickens's output makes him the ideal subject for this experiment.

Groundbreaking initiatives like Project Gutenberg have opened up classic literature to new audiences, but those using Gutenberg's data for academic analysis rarely comment on the quality of the data, which is usually an available edition transcribed by a volunteer rather than a first edition (or any other 'authoritative' text) with editorial oversight. This project thus combines digital analysis with book history, aiming to offer the ability to comprehensively search across, for example, serialised novels and first editions, providing transparent information about the source texts used.

Project History:

The database was first launched in July 2021 with poetry, speeches and a selection of early short fiction fully searchable. From 2021 to 2022, the project team will be focused on uploading the rest of Dickens's short stories, as well as plays, journalism, serials, and first editions of the novels.

How to Cite:

Dickens Search, eds. Emily Bell and Lydia Craig. Accessed [date]. https://dickenssearch.com.