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Subject:
From:
Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Wed, 7 Mar 2012 11:04:48 -0800
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Friends of the Dickens Forum,

	Tony Pointon <[log in to unmask]> hearkens back to
earlier uses of "penny-a-liner."  Its use and misuse....  (pjm)
---

The term "penny-a-liner" for a hack journalist who received a penny for
each line of printed copy he produced is ancient, though it seems to have
died out in the late 19th century. When I saw it years ago used for John
Dickens in a biography, it was so obvious, given his style in the
articles he wrote, with his polysyllabic words, that I did not think to
note it: he so obviously was. I have never seen the term "paid by the
word" applied to a novelist or journalist, and it would be nonsense to do
so, since newspapers are concerned with filling up a given number of
column inches, or of lines, and Dickens was required by his publishers to
produce a certain number of pages, which equated to a given number of
lines.

I think the term has been made up to fit another of the modern libels on
Dickens.

Tony