“Is Little Nell still alive?” The desperate need to know the fate of the novel's central character is said to have drawn huge crowds to the New York docks in February 1841 as the ship sailed in with the last instalment of The Old Curiosity Shop. Whether or not this story is true, it indicates the immense power that the twenty-eight-year-old Dickens had over the popular imagination in 1840-41 when the periodical publication of his fourth novel lifted sales of his ailing magazine Master Humphrey's Clock to over 100,000 copies per week. The opening episode appeared as a hasty sketch in the fourth number on 25th April 1840, then Chapter 2 appeared in the seventh number, and thereafter there was a …
Garner-Jones, Susan. "The Old Curiosity Shop". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 September 2006; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=22, accessed 28 April 2015.]