In 1998 the BBC approached the Dickens Project about creating an electornic archival resource that would complement the BBC's recent film adaptation of Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. The adaptation, directed by Julian Farino with a script by Sandy Welch, was a lush portrayal of the mid-Victorian era, and won four out of the seven BAFTA awards for which it was nominated, including Best Serial Drama.
During the year of its development, "Our Mutual Friend: The Scholarly Pages" grew into an international collaborative effort, drawing on technical expertise from both sides of the Atlantic, design expertise from a Dickens web enthusiast in America's heartland (David Purdue), the devotion of a Japanese scholar dedicated to digitizing nearly the entirety of the Victorian era (Mitsuharu Matsuoka), and many other scholars and students of Dickens across the globe. The result was the 1998 launch of "Our Mutual Friend: The Scholarly Pages," whose original charter was to provide "a virtually inexhaustible storehouse of information for those who wish to explore in depth the complicated 'web' of this dense but powerful novel." At a time when websites were only beginning to proliferate, "Our Mutual Friend: The Scholarly Pages" was indeed something new and large.
Nearly 15 years after its original release, and during the year of the bicentennary of Dickens's birth, "Our Mutual Friend: The Scholarly Pages" has, like Dickens's novels themselves, adapted to advances in technology. We have completely re-architected the site so that visitors can now take advantage of an easier navigation system, and can open many of the rich graphical assets, including the repository of advertisements from the serial parts, in shadow box picture windows. We have also been able to enlarge all of the default sizes of our pages, which were, sad to say, originally limited by the smaller screens of computer monitors from a time long ago.
We hope that you enjoy this new version of "Our Mutual Friend: The Scholarly Pages", and that it continues to delight and educate students and teachers of Dickens for many years to come.
Jon Michael Varese
Director of Digital Initiatives
The Dickens Project
5 April 2012