The University of Buckingham is calling on Press Gazette readers to help it mark Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday next February by sub-editing a huge archive of his journalism.
It has digitised Household Words and All The Year Round – the two magazines Dickens edited from 1850 until his death in 1870. And it has used text-recognition software to turn those scanned pages into words.
But each computer-generated transcript contains a number of errors and needs a human to put them right. That’s where you come in!
It’s an exercise in crowd-sourcing which has so far seen less than 10 per cent of the pages completed.
Although the articles are all un-bylined – this project could lead to a number of new Dickens works coming to light because other computer jiggery pokery is going to be deployed to identify pieces written by the great man based on identifiable patterns in his writing style.
The magazines sold between 40,000 and 100,000 copies a week and were thought to have about 30 readers per copy. This was in the days when a daily newspaper was reckoned to be motoring if it sold more than 10,000 copies.
There are more than a thousand 24-page magazines to correct – including some which serialised some of Dickens’ greatest works.
As an aside, apparently Dickens made around £170,000 a year from his magazines in today’s money – providing him with the bulk of his income. And staff-wise he had just two partners and a printer – no publisher or commercial team. An inspiration to journalists going it alone with their own publications today.