The Artful Dickens: The Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist by John Mullan

Chubblewig. Chuzzletoe. Chuzzlebog. Chuzzlewig. On loose sheets of paper, Charles Dickens tried out titles. Martin Sweezleden. Martin Sweezlebach. Martin Sweezlewag. Finally, triumphantly, on its own, on the reverse of the first sheet: Martin Chuzzlewit. Elsewhere, Dickens fiddled with a title for a book provisionally called “Mag’s Diversions”. Trotfield. Trotbury. Spankle. Wellbury. Copperboy. Flowerbury. Topflower. Magbury. Copperstone. Copperfield. He wrote it a second time. Copperfield. That’s my boy.

Dickens has given the OED more eponyms — words derived from the names of characters — than any other novelist. Bumble: a self-important minor official. Scrooge: a miser. Pecksniffian: hypocritical. Micawber: a feckless optimist. Gradgrind: a hard, cold, basher of facts. Podsnappery: complacent, blinkered self-satisfaction. Pickwickian: plump, jovial, all too hoodwinkable.

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