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Serialized Substacks of Classic Literature You Need in Your Inbox

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Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Get ready for a summer of crushing the classics with serialized Substacks.

What are serialized Substacks, you may ask? They’re newsletters on the Substack platform that send out the text of works in the public domain — that is, copyright-free — bit by bit. Back in ye olden times, serialization was how many stories were published. Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, and Herman Melville were among those whose work was serialized in newspapers and magazines.

The first serialized Substack I saw was Dracula Daily, which is in its second run-through. It’s the perfect concept for serialization: rather than choosing a chapter or snippet to go out each day, it lines up with the dates of the letters and diary entries of the original Dracula. Most of the serialized Substacks list this one as their inspiration.

A downside to this trend, though, is the lack of diverse voices in these serialized Substacks. Some titles I’d love to see in this format are The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, and The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore.

And don’t worry — not all of them are starting right now. Many have start dates in the fall or even next year, so you have time to subscribe and maybe even end up with a surprise in your inbox, if you forget which you’ve signed up for.

Serialized Substacks

Big Dalloway Energy

First of all, this is the very best title. Starting June 1, you’ll get bits of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway in your inbox.

Carmilla Quarterly

Feast your eyes on the original vampire lesbian novel by Sheridan Le Fanu. It’s broken up into four parts, with no start date set yet.

Dracula Daily

Since the entirety of Bram Stoker’s classic occurs between May 3 and November 10, with dates on each letter or diary entry, Dracula Daily is sending out a newsletter with each day’s entries. In real time! You can get started with the first entry that went out May 3 and catch up to the current day’s writings.

Edgar Allan Poe Daily

Good news if you’re a Dracula Daily subscriber — the Poe stories and poems in this newsletter only come out on days when Dracula is quiet.

Frankenstein Weekly

This newsletter is sending out Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein — the 1818 edition, thank you very much — bit by bit.

Literary Letters

This newsletter is sure to bring you something new. It’s focusing on lesser-known public domain works in epistolary format, sending them out in real time. The full schedule is all that’s up for now, with The Lightning Conductor by C.N. Williamson and A.M. Williamson starting November 12.

Les Mis Daily

Get a chapter of Victor Hugo’s tome Les Misérables every day with this Substack.

Letters from Watson

Sherlock Holmes! In a year! Emails begin January 1, 2023, to coincide when all of the Sherlock Holmes stories enter the public domain. Letters from Watson is going to follow the chronological order of Holmes’s cases, rather than their publication order, which should be a super neat experience.

LOTR Newsletter

Starting September 15, get your Lord of the Rings on. The first week will cover the prologue and chapters taking place before September 22, and everything after that will follow the dates in the book.

Moby Dick Summer

From Memorial Day until Labor Day, get a few chapters of Herman Melville’s classic in your inbox every Monday and Wednesday. Fridays will contain a recap and possibly other fun things.

Musketeers Daily

Starting March 14 of next year, get Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers in your inbox in the timeline it was originally serialized.

Ovid’s Summer Book Club

Classical mythology fans, rejoice! This fab newsletter is reading The Metamorphoses by Ovid. It started on May 15 and will go until the end of August. Each week will focus on one book of The Metamorphoses, with daily issues of about 100 lines of the story. Up next, in January, will be Ovid’s Fasti.

The Penny Dreadful

This should be fun: Penny dreadfuls were cheap serialized stories printed in the UK in the nineteenth century. The Penny Dreadful will contain these stories of horror and romance and mystery.

Pride and Prejudice Weekly

This newsletter will send out a chapter of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice every week.

Werther Rewritten

From May 4 to Christmas of next year, get The Sorrows of Young Werther by J. W. von Goethe, slightly rewritten for the modern times. Our newsletter curator says Werther is a “sad little meow meow,” which is really all I needed to hear about this book I’d never heard of.

Whale Weekly

This intro is the best intro: “Wish you could take 3 years to finish Moby-Dick without feeling bad about it? You’ve come to the right place.” Issues begin in December 2022 and continue for the passage of time in the novel — three years.

The Woman in White Weekly

This mystery was originally serialized in Charles Dickens’s magazine in 1859, and here it is again. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is a Victorian detective novel. How neat! The story will begin on July 31, arriving in your inbox every Sunday until the story ends.

If you want your inbox overflowing with more bookish content, be sure to check out this list of the best bookish newsletters for readers.