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CHAPTER V - MY FIRST SUCCESS - 1849-1855 (continued)
The work of taking up a new district, which requires not only that the man doing it should know the nature of the postal arrangements, but also the characters and the peculiarities of the postmasters and their clerks, was too heavy to allow of my going on with my book at once. It was not till the end of 1852 that I recommenced it, and it was in the autumn of 1853 that I finished the work. It was only one small volume, and in later days would have been completed in six weeks,--or in two months at the longest, if other work had pressed. On looking at the title-page, I find it was not published till 1855. I had made acquaintance, through my friend John Merivale, with William Longman the publisher, and had received from him an assurance that the manuscript should be "looked at." It was "looked at," and Messrs. Longman made me an offer to publish it at half profits. I had no reason to love "half profits," but I was very anxious to have my book published, and I acceded. It was now more than ten years since I had commenced writing The Macdermots, and I thought that if any success was to be achieved, the time surely had come. I had not been impatient; but, if there was to be a time, surely it had come.
The novel-reading world did not go mad about The Warden; but I soon felt that it had not failed as the others had failed. There were notices of it in the press, and I could discover that people around me knew that I had written a book. Mr. Longman was complimentary, and after a while informed me that there would be profits to divide. At the end of 1855 I received a cheque for œ9 8s. 8d., which was the first money I had ever earned by literary work;--that œ20 which poor Mr. Colburn had been made to pay certainly never having been earned at all. At the end of 1856 I received another sum of œ10 15s. 1d. The pecuniary success was not great. Indeed, as regarded remuneration for the time, stone-breaking would have done better. A thousand copies were printed, of which, after a lapse of five or six years, about 300 had to be converted into another form, and sold as belonging to a cheap edition. In its original form The Warden never reached the essential honour of a second edition.
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