In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
Sara Majka’s debut collection Cities I’ve Never Lived In is forthcoming from Graywolf Press. At Longreads, check out one of her short stories from the collection on working in soup kitchens across the country. Pair with our celebration of Short Story Week for recommendations, reviews, and more.
Pulitzer winner Tony Horwitz describes – in incredibly depressing fashion – his experience publishing Boom, a digital short representing his first foray into “the brave new world” of digital publishing. Two takeaways for aspiring writers that are not explicitly mentioned, however: don’t write without a contract, and be sure to use an agent from the get-go.
“[Mark] Twain wasn’t above the contrivances of capitalism, even as he skewered them. . . From nonage to dotage, in dire straits or in the pink, he was always a capricious entrepreneur, counting the zeroes on an imaginary balance sheet.” The New Yorker writes about the humor writer’s many failed attempts to get very rich. From our archives: Twain and the Wild West.