The Wire as a Victorian Novel
You may have thought that the gritty urban drama The Wire is a purely modern invention, but it’s actually a presentation of a serialized Victorian novel written by Horatio Bucklesby Ogden. At least, that’s what Sean Michael Robinson of The Hooded Utilitarian presents in a lengthy essay, excerpted here:
The Wire began syndication in 1846, and was published in 60 installments over the course of six years. Each installment was 30 pages, featuring covers and illustrations by Baxter “Bubz” Black, and selling for one shilling each. After the final installment, The Wire became available in a five volume set, departing from the traditional three.
Bucklesby Ogden himself has most often been compared to Charles Dickens. Both began as journalists, and then branched out with works such as Pickwick Papers and The Corner. While Dickens found popularity and eventual fame in his successive work, Ogden took a darker path.[...]
The serial format did The Wire no favors at the time of its publication. Though critics lauded it, the general public found the initial installments slow and difficult to get into, while later installments required intimate knowledge of all the pieces which had come before. To consume this story in small bits doled out over an extended time is to view a pointillist painting by looking at the dots.
Robinson draws distinctions between The Wire and the contemporary works of Charles Dickens.