Rising rage and extreme bewilderment had swelled the noble breast of Mr Pickwick, almost to the bursting of his waistcoat’ Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers – a comic masterpiece that catapulted its twenty-four-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle and, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, and his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor’s prison, characters and incidents sprang to life from Dickens’s pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour and literary invention. This edition is based on the first volume edition of 1837, and includes the original illustrations. In his introduction, Mark Wormald discusses the genesis of The Pickwick Papers and the emergence of its central characters.