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In chapter 48 of Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens expresses quite strong views on writers of plays adapted from books:

'Shot beyond him [Shakespear], I mean,' resumed Nicholas, 'in quite another respect, for, whereas he brought within the magic circle of his genius, traditions peculiarly adapted for his purpose, and turned familiar things into constellations which should enlighten the world for ages, you drag within the magic circle of your dulness, subjects not at all adapted to the purposes of the stage, and debase as he exalted. For instance, you take the uncompleted books of living authors, fresh from their hands, wet from the press, cut, hack, and carve them to the powers and capacities of your actors, and the capability of your theatres, finish unfinished works, hastily and crudely vamp up ideas not yet worked out by their original projector, but which have doubtless cost him many thoughtful days and sleepless nights; by a comparison of incidents and dialogue, down to the very last word he may have written a fortnight before, do your utmost to anticipate his plot--all this without his permission, and against his will; and then, to crown the whole proceeding, publish in some mean pamphlet, an unmeaning farrago of garbled extracts from his work, to which your name as author, with the honourable distinction annexed, of having perpetrated a hundred other outrages of the same description. Now, show me the distinction between such pilfering as this, and picking a man's pocket in the street: unless, indeed, it be, that the legislature has a regard for pocket-handkerchiefs, and leaves men's brains, except when they are knocked out by violence, to take care of themselves.'

Considering he himself at one time wrote a play, and the viciousness of the attack, I wondered if Dickens was venting some of his own anger.

In particular, did Dickens have someone who was 'cutting, hacking and carving' his works at the time he was writing Nicholas Nickleby, and was this barb introduced as some revenge upon that person?

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In the book Charles Dickens in Context, by Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux, quoting from Google Books:

[Survival] for both playwright and playhouse required the rapid production of new scripts. To keep up this frantic pace, dramatists cut corners, claiming as their own scripts they merely translated from a foreign language, closely mimicking successful plays written by other playwrights, or 'borrowing' the plots and characters of popular novels. It was this last practice that most incensed Dickens and put him into conflict with one of the country's most prolific playwrights, W. T. Moncrieff. When Dickens satirised Moncrieff in the form of Nickleby's Mr Crummles, Moncrieff responded by dramatising Nickleby and advertising the piece with a hostile note referencing Dickens' own failed theatrical ambitions and arguing that Dickens stole his characterisations from the theatre. Dickens denounced Moncrieff as little more than a thief ….

I'll need to see if Moncrieff actually stole one of Dickens's works before Nickleby, but it seems probable.

The quote in the question, though, does not seem to be directly about Mr Crummles, but is said to one of the guests at his farewell dinner (bold mine):

It was upon the whole a very distinguished party, for independently of the lesser theatrical lights who clustered on this occasion round Mr. Snittle Timberry, there was a literary gentleman present who had dramatised in his time two hundred and forty-seven novels as fast as they had come out — some of them faster than they had come out — and who was a literary gentleman in consequence.


Indeed, he had. Quoting Dramatic Adaptations of Dickens's Novels by Philip V. Allingham:

"To the novelist's delight and irritation, the plays often appeared long before the novels were complete" (Bolton 3), so that, for example, just twelve instalments into The Pickwick Papers the most prolific of London's theatrical pirates, Edward Stirling, staged the burletta Pickwick Papers; or, The Age in We Live at The City of London Theatre, Bishopsgate, on 27 March 1837. By the end of 1838, no less than 26 such adaptations had graced the boards of London's minor theatres; three stage adaptations — by William Leman Rede, T. W. Moncrieff, and Edward Stirling — appeared even before the novel had finished its serial run! "Dickens's novels in general were exploited for their sensational, lachrymose, or farcical elements, which came to be magnified under the glare of the gaslight" (Colby 142). The only way that a novelist such as Charles Dickens could protect himself against theatrical piracy was to acquire the right of stage representation by adapting his own work for the theatre. However, for Dickens, fully occupied with editing a weekly magazine as well as writing novels, a less time-consuming method of controlling stage adaptations of his works was to grant official approval to a dramatist and company who were prepared to work with him. "Whenever this was done such plays were regarded as being the official versions. All the same, other versions were made and performed in other theatres" (Morley 34).

In the late 1830s and early 1840s, the number of adaptations of Dickens's novels on the early Victorian stage prompted critic F. Dubrez Fawcett in Dickens the Dramatist (London: W. H. Allen, 1952) to term these early stage-versions "The Boz Cascade" and "The Dickens Deluge."

Boz is one of Dickens' pseudonyms (see Sketches by Boz).

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