Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 January 2016
While carefully crafting a valentine to his would-be-lover Mary, Sam Weller finishes rather abruptly, and his father, looking over his shoulder, asks, “That's rayther a sudden pull up, ain't it, Sammy?” Sam's response emblematizes the driving force of the serial novel: “Not a bit on it. . . she'll vish there wos more, and that's the great art o' letter writin'” (344; no. XII, ch. XXXIII). Charles Dickens's great art of serial writing aimed to leave his readers repeatedly wishing there was more: more pages, more plot, more world, and above all, more time with their favorite characters. This desire encouraged readers to imagine beyond the novel – to pursue characters outside the pages of The Pickwick Papers itself. Their desires were rewarded with a wide range of continuations that included theatrical adaptations, plagiarisms, or unauthorized sequels – anything that, like the valentine, could reunite readers with their beloved Sam.