Serial (literature)
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In
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...

literature
, a serial is a printing or publishing format by which a single larger
work Work may refer to: * Work (human activity) Work or labor is intentional activity people perform to support themselves, others, or the needs and wants of a wider community. Alternatively, work can be viewed as the human activity that cont ...

work
, often a work of
narrative fiction
narrative fiction
, is published in smaller, sequential installments. The installments are also known as ''numbers'', ''parts'' or ''fascicles'', and may be released either as separate
publication To publish is to make content Content or contents may refer to: Media * Content (media), information or experience provided to audience or end-users by publishers or media producers ** Content industry, an umbrella term that encompasses com ...

publication
s or within sequential issues of a
periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literature), serialised ...
, such as a magazine or newspaper. Serialisation can also begin with a single short story that is subsequently turned into a series. Historically, such series have been published in periodicals. Popular short-story series are often published together in book form as collections.


Early history

The growth of moveable type in the 17th century prompted episodic and often disconnected narratives such as ''
L'Astrée ''L'Astrée'' is a pastoral novel by Honoré d'Urfé, published between 1607 and 1627. Possibly the single most influential work of 17th century French literature, ''L'Astrée'' has been called the "novel of novels", partly for its immense lengt ...

L'Astrée
'' and '' Le Grand Cyrus''. At that time, books remained a premium item, so to reduce the price and expand the market, publishers produced large works in lower-cost installments called fascicles. These had the added attraction of allowing a publisher to gauge the popularity of a work without incurring the expense of a substantial print run of bound volumes: if the work was not a success, no bound volumes needed to be prepared. If, on the other hand, the serialised book sold well, it was a good bet that bound volumes would sell well, too.


19th and early 20th centuries

Serialized fiction surged in popularity during Britain's
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
, due to a combination of the rise of literacy, technological advances in printing, and improved economics of distribution. Most
Victorian novel Victorian literature refers to English literature during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). English writing from this era reflects the major transformation in most aspects of English life, such as significant scientific, economic, and techn ...
s first appeared as installments in monthly or weekly periodicals. The wild success of
Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens (; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian e ...

Charles Dickens
's ''
The Pickwick Papers ''The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club'' (also known as ''The Pickwick Papers'') was Charles Dickens Charles John Huffam Dickens (; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some o ...
'', first published in 1836, is widely considered to have established the viability and appeal of the serialized format within periodical literature. During that era, the line between "quality" and "commercial" literature was not distinct. Other famous writers who wrote serial literature for popular magazines were
Wilkie Collins William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for '' The Woman in White'' (1859), and for ''The Moonstone ''The Moonstone'' (1868) by Wilkie Collins William Wilkie ...

Wilkie Collins
, inventor of the
detective novel Detective fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which an criminal investigation, investigator or a detective—either professional, amateur or retired—investigates a crime, often murder. The detective genre began around ...
with ''
The Moonstone ''The Moonstone'' (1868) by Wilkie Collins William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for ''The Woman in White (novel), The Woman in White'' (1859), and for ''The Mo ...
'' and Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for ''A Study in Scarlet'', the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Hol ...
, who created the
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes () is a fictional detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930) was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes ...

Sherlock Holmes
stories originally for serialization in '' The Strand'' magazine. While American periodicals first syndicated British writers, over time they drew from a growing base of domestic authors. The rise of the periodicals like '' Harper's'' and the ''
Atlantic Monthly ''The Atlantic'' is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. It was founded in 1857 in Boston, as ''The Atlantic Monthly'', a literary and cultural magazine that published leading writers' commentary on education, the abolition of sl ...
'' grew in symbiotic tandem with American literary talent. The magazines nurtured and provided an economic sustainability for writers, while the writers helped grow the periodicals' circulation base. During the late 19th century, those that were considered the best American writers first published their work in serial form and then only later in a completed volume format. As a piece in ''
Scribner's Monthly ''Scribner's Monthly: An Illustrated Magazine for the People'' was an illustrated American literary periodical published from 1870 until 1881. Following a change in ownership in 1881 of the company that had produced it, the magazine was relaunche ...
'' explained in 1878, "Now it is the second or third rate novelist who cannot get publication in a magazine, and is obliged to publish in a volume, and it is in the magazine that the best novelist always appears first." Among the American writers that wrote in serial form were
Henry James Henry James ( – ) was an American-British author. He is regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism Literary realism is a literary genre A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determine ...

Henry James
and
Herman Melville Herman Melville (Name change, born Melvill; August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance (literature), American Renaissance period. Among his best-known works are ...

Herman Melville
. A large part of the appeal for writers at the time was the broad audiences that serialization could reach, which would then grow their following for published works. One of the first significant American works to be released in serial format is ''
Uncle Tom's Cabin ''Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly.'' is an anti-slavery novel by American literature, American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in two Volume (bibliography), volumes in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes ...

Uncle Tom's Cabin
'', by
Harriet Beecher Stowe Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (; June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. She came from the Beecher family, a famous religious family, and is best known for her novel ''Uncle Tom's Cabin'' (1852), which de ...

Harriet Beecher Stowe
, which was published over a 40-week period by ''
The National Era ''The National Era'' was an Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist newspaper published weekly in Washington, D.C., from 1847 to 1860. Each number contained four pages of seven columns each. ''The National Era'' was noted for its large siz ...
'', an abolitionist periodical, starting with the June 5, 1851 issue. Serialization was so standard in American literature that authors from that era often built installment structure into their creative process. James, for example, often had his works divided into multi-part segments of similar length. The consumption of fiction during that time was different than in the 20th century. Instead of being read in a single volume, a novel would often be consumed by readers in installments over a period as long as a year, with the authors and periodicals often responding to audience reaction. In France,
Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas (, ; ; born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie ; 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas père (where '' '' is French for 'father', thus 'the elder/senior'), was a French writer. His works have been tra ...

Alexandre Dumas
and were masters of the serialized genre. ''
The Three Musketeers ''The Three Musketeers'' (french: Les Trois Mousquetaires, links=no, ) is a French historical adventure novel Adventure fiction is a genre of fiction that usually presents danger, or gives the reader a sense of excitement. History In the ...
'' and ''
The Count of Monte Cristo ''The Count of Monte Cristo'' (french: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo) is an adventure novel Adventure fiction is a genre of fiction that usually presents danger, or gives the reader a sense of excitement. History In the Introduction to the ''Enc ...
'' each appeared as a ''
feuilleton A feuilleton (; a diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which ...
''. ''The Count of Monte Cristo'' was stretched out to 139 installments. Eugène Sue's serial novel ''Le Juif errant'' increased circulation of ''Le Constitutionnel'' from 3,600 to 25,000. Production in book form soon followed and serialization was one of the main reasons that nineteenth-century novels were so long. Authors and publishers kept the story going if it was successful since authors were paid by line and by episode.
Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert ( , , ; 12 December 1821 – 8 May 1880) was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism Literary realism is a literary genre, part of the broader realism (arts), rea ...

Gustave Flaubert
's ''
Madame Bovary ''Madame Bovary'' (; ), originally published as ''Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners'' ( ), is the debut novel A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. Debut novels are often the author's first opportunity to make an impact on t ...
'' was serialized in '' La Revue de Paris'' in 1856. Some writers were prolific. Alexandre Dumas wrote at an incredible pace, oftentimes writing with his partner twelve to fourteen hours a day, working on several novels for serialized publication at once. However, not every writer could keep up with the serial writing pace.
Wilkie Collins William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was an English novelist and playwright known especially for '' The Woman in White'' (1859), and for ''The Moonstone ''The Moonstone'' (1868) by Wilkie Collins William Wilkie ...

Wilkie Collins
, for instance, was never more than a week before publication. The difference in writing pace and output in large part determined the author's success, as audience appetite created demand for further installments. In the
German-speaking countries The following is a list of the countries and territories where German is an official language (also known as the Germanosphere). It includes countries that have German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * German ...
, the serialized novel was widely popularized by the weekly family magazine ''
Die Gartenlaube ''Die Gartenlaube – Illustriertes Familienblatt'' (, ''The Garden Arbor – Illustrated Family Journal'') was the first successful mass-circulation German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic e ...
'', which reached a circulation of 382,000 by 1875.Kirsten Belgum: "Domesticating the Reader: Women and Die Gartenlaube" in: ''Women in German Yearbook 9'' (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993) pp. 92–93 In Russia, ''
The Russian Messenger The ''Russian Messenger'' or ''Russian Herald'' (russian: Ру́сский ве́стник ''Russkiy Vestnik'', History of the Russian language, Pre-reform Russian: Русскій Вѣстникъ ''Russkiy Vestnik'') has been the title of three n ...
'' serialized
Leo Tolstoy Count Lev Nikolayevich TolstoyTolstoy pronounced his first name as , which corresponds to the romanization ''Lyov''. () (; russian: link=no, Лев Николаевич Толстой,In Tolstoy's day, his name was written as in pre-reform ...

Leo Tolstoy
's ''
Anna Karenina ''Anna Karenina'' ( rus, «Анна Каренина», p=ˈanːə kɐˈrʲenʲɪnə) is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Many writers consider it the greatest work of literature ever written, and ...
'' from 1873 to 1877 and
Fyodor Dostoevsky Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (, ; rus, Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, Fyódor Mikháylovich Dostoyévskiy, p=ˈfʲɵdər mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪdʑ dəstɐˈjefskʲɪj, a=ru-Dostoevsky.ogg, links=yes; 11 November 18219 ...
's ''
The Brothers Karamazov ''The Brothers Karamazov'' (russian: Бра́тья Карама́зовы, ''Brat'ya Karamazovy'', ), also translated as ''The Karamazov Brothers'', is the last novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky spent nearly two years writin ...
'' from 1879 to 1880. In Poland,
Bolesław Prus Aleksander Głowacki (20 August 1847 – 19 May 1912), better known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author a ...
wrote several serialized novels: '' The Outpost'' (1885–86), '' The Doll'' (1887–89), ''
The New Woman Image:Prus 002.jpg, 150px, Bolesław Prus ''The New Woman'' ( pl, Emancypantki) is the third of four major novels by the Polish writer Bolesław Prus. It was composed, and appeared in newspaper serialization, in 1890-93, and dealt with societal que ...
'' (1890–93), and his sole
historical novel #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is common ...
, ''
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the conte ...
'' (the latter, exceptionally, written entire over a year's time in 1894–95 and serialized only after completion, in 1895–96). In addition, works in late
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
China had been serialized. ''
The Nine-tailed Turtle ''The Nine-tailed Turtle'' (, also translated as ''Nine-tailed Turtles'', ''Nine-headed Turtle'', or ''Nine-times Cuckold'') is a novel by (). It was Serial (literature), serialized from 1906 to 1910 and has 192 chapters,David Der-wei Wang, Wang, ...
'' was serialized from 1906 to 1910. '' Bizarre Happenings Eyewitnessed over Two Decades'' was serialized in ''Xin Xiaoshuo'' (T: 新小說, S: 新小说, P: ''Xīn Xiǎoshuō''; W: ''Hsin Hsiao-shuo''; "New Fiction"), a magazine by
Liang Qichao Liang Qichao (February 23, 1873 – January 19, 1929) was a Chinese social and political activist, journalist, and intellectual who lived during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China. His thou ...

Liang Qichao
. The first half of '' Officialdom Unmasked'' appeared in installments of '' Shanghai Shijie Fanhua Bao'', serialized there from April 1903 to June 1905.


Late 20th and early 21st centuries

With the rise of broadcast—both radio and
television series A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or tele, is a device that combines a ...
—in the first half of the 20th century, printed periodical fiction began a slow decline as newspapers and magazines shifted their focus from entertainment to information and news. However, some serialization of novels in periodicals continued, with mixed success. The first several books in the ''
Tales of the City ''Tales of the City'' is a series of nine novels written by American author Armistead Maupin Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr. ( ) (born May 13, 1944) is an American writer who wrote '' Tales of the City'', a series of novels set in San Francisco. ...
'' series by
Armistead Maupin Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr. ( ) (born May 13, 1944) is an American writer who wrote ''Tales of the City United States first edition cover of the first book in the ''Tales of the City'' series ''Tales of the City'' is a series of nine novels wr ...
appeared from 1978 as regular installments in San Francisco newspapers. Similar serial novels ran in other city newspapers, such as ''
The Serial ''The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County'' (often referred to as ''The Serial'') is a satirical Satire is a genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with social ...
'' (1976;
Marin County Marin County is located in the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area The San Francisco Bay Area, popularly referred to as the Bay Area, is a populous region surrounding the , , and in . Although the exact boundaries of the regi ...
), ''Tangled Lives'' (Boston), ''Bagtime'' (Chicago), and ''Federal Triangle'' (Washington, D.C.). Starting in 1984,
Tom Wolfe Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (March 2, 1930 – May 14, 2018)Some sources say 1931; ''The New York Times'' and Reuters both initially reported 1931 in their obituaries before changing to 1930. See and was an American author and journalist widely ...
's ''
The Bonfire of the Vanities ''The Bonfire of the Vanities'' is a 1987 satirical novel by Tom Wolfe. The story is a drama about ambition, racism, social class, politics, and greed in 1980s New York City, and centers on three main characters: White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, WA ...
'', about contemporary New York City, ran in 27 parts in ''
Rolling Stone ''Rolling Stone'' is an American monthly magazine that focuses on music, politics, and popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish ...
'', partially inspired by the model of Dickens. The magazine paid $200,000 for his work, but Wolfe heavily revised the work before publication as a standalone novel.
Alexander McCall Smith Alexander "Sandy" McCall Smith, Order of the British Empire, CBE, Royal Society of Edinburgh, FRSE (born 24 August 1948), is a British-Zimbabwean writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 20th centu ...
, author of '' The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency'' series, experimented in 2004 with publishing his novel '' 44 Scotland Street'' in installments every weekday in ''
The Scotsman ''The Scotsman'' is a Scottish compact Compact as used in politics may refer broadly to a pact A pact, from Latin ''pactum'' ("something agreed upon"), is a formal agreement. In international relations International relations (IR) ...
''.
Michael Chabon Michael Chabon ( ; born May 24, 1963) is an American novelist, screenwriter, columnist and short story writer. Born in Washington, DC, he spent a year studying at Carnegie Mellon University before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh, gra ...
serialized '' Gentlemen of the Road'' in ''
The New York Times Magazine ''The New York Times Magazine'' is a Sunday magazine A Sunday magazine is a publication inserted into a Sunday newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current event ...
'' in 2007. The emergence of the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system An information system (IS) is a formal, sociotechnical Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational ...
prompted some authors to revise a serial format.
Stephen King Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of , , , , , and novels. Described as the "King of Horror", a play on his surname and a reference to his high standing in pop culture, his books have sold more than 350  ...
experimented with '' The Green Mile'' (1996) and, less successfully, with the uncompleted '' The Plant'' in 2000.
Michel Faber Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch-born writer of English-language fiction, including his 2002 novel ''The Crimson Petal and the White''. His latest book is a novel for young adults, ''D: A Tale of Two Worlds'', published in 2020. Life ...

Michel Faber
allowed ''The Guardian'' to serialise his novel ''
The Crimson Petal and the White ''The Crimson Petal and the White'' is a 2002 novel by Michel Faber set in Victorian era, Victorian England. The title is from an 1847 poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson entitled "Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal", the opening line of which is "Now sleep ...
''. In 2005,
Orson Scott Card Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American writer known best for his science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative a ...
serialized his out-of-print novel '' Hot Sleep'' in the first issue of his online magazine, ''
InterGalactic Medicine Show ''InterGalactic Medicine Show'' (sometimes shortened to ''IGMS'') was an American Online magazine, online fantasy fiction magazine, fantasy and science fiction magazine. It was founded in 2005 by multiple award-winning author Orson Scott Card and ...
''. In 2008 McCall Smith wrote a serialized online novel '' Corduroy Mansions'', with the audio edition read by
Andrew Sachs Andreas Siegfried Sachs (7 April 1930 – 23 November 2016), known professionally as Andrew Sachs, was a German-born British actor and writer. He made his name on British television and found his greatest fame in 1975 for his portrayal of the co ...

Andrew Sachs
made available at the same pace as the daily publication. In 2011,
pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name tha ...
ous author Wildbow published ''
Worm Worms are many different distantly related bilateral animals that typically have a long cylindrical tube-like body, no limb Limb can refer to: *Limb (anatomy), an appendage of a human or animal *Limb Music, a record label *Limb (album), an ...
'', which remains one of the most popular web serials of all time. Conversely, graphic novels became more popular in this period containing stories which were originally published in a serial format, for example Alan Moore's ''
Watchmen ''Watchmen'' is an American comic book Limited series (comics), maxiseries by the British creative team of writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins (comics), John Higgins. It was published monthly by DC Comics in 1986 an ...

Watchmen
''. The rise of
fan fiction Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan fic, fanfic, fic or ff) is Fiction, fictional writing written in an amateur capacity by Fan (person), fans, unauthorized by, but derivative work, based on an existing work of fiction. Copyright p ...
on the internet also follows a serial fiction style of publication, as seen on websites such as FanFiction.Net and Archive of Our Own (AO3). Aspiring authors have also used the web to publish free-to-read works in serialized format on their own websites as well as web-based communities such as
LiveJournal LiveJournal (russian: Живой Журнал), stylised as LiVEJOURNAL, is a Russian-owned social networking service A social networking service or SNS (sometimes called a social networking site) is an online platform which people use to bu ...
, Fictionpress.com, fictionhub, Kindle Vella and
Wattpad Wattpad is an online social reading platform intended for users to read and write original stories. Founded by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen, the platform aims to create social communities around stories, and remove the barriers between readers and wr ...

Wattpad
. Many of these books receive as many readers as successful novels; some have received the same number of readers as ''New York Times'' bestsellers. In addition, the prevalence of mobile devices made the serial format even more popular with the likes of JukePop Serials, and Serial Box, with iOS and AndroidJukePop Serials
(Android)
apps that focuses entirely on curating and promoting serialized novels.


See also

*
Feuilleton A feuilleton (; a diminutive A diminutive is a root word A root (or root word) is the core of a word that is irreducible into more meaningful elements. In morphology, a root is a morphologically simple unit which can be left bare or to which ...
*
Partwork A partwork is a written publication released as a series of planned magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may ref ...
*
Television series A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set A television set or television receiver, more commonly called the television, TV, TV set, tube, telly, or tele, is a device that combines a ...
*
Web fiction Web fiction is written works of literature available primarily or solely on the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate be ...
(Webserial)


References


External links


AuthorAlerts.comFantasticFiction.comFictFact.comFictionDB.com
* *
Vintage Series Books for Girls ... and a Few for Boys
{{DEFAULTSORT:Serial (Literature) Literature Novels first published in serial form, * Penny papers Literary series,