Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt and Charles Dickens all worked as parliamentary reporters, but their experiences in the press gallery have not received much scrutiny. Nikki Hessell's study is the first work to consider all four of these canonical writers as gallery reporters, providing a detailed picture of this intriguing episode in their careers. Hessell challenges preconceived notions about the role that emergent literary genius played in their success as reporters, arguing instead that they were consummate gallery professionals who adapted themselves to the journalistic standards of their day. That professional background fed in to their creative work in unexpected ways. By drawing on a wealth of evidence in letters, diaries and the press, this study provides fresh insights into the ways in which four great writers learnt the craft of journalism and brought those lessons to bear on their career as literary authors.
Nikki Hessell is Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Preface; 1. Introduction: reporting and the individual talent; 2. Samuel Johnson: beyond Lilliput; 3. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the freedom of the gallery; 4. William Hazlitt and the real eloquence of the British senate; 5. Charles Dickens and the ghost of speeches past; 6. Conclusion: taking parliamentary reporting seriously; Bibliography; Index.