In the 1870s Chapman and Hall and the New York publishing house of Harper Brothers attempted to capture the interest of the British and American reading public with the first complete edition of Charles Dickens's works to appear since his death. Capitalizing on fond memories of Dickens's journalism of the 1850s, they named the twenty-two quarto volumes "The Household Edition," which derived both its name and double-columned format from the weekly journal Household Words. For The Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield The Younger, the fourth work in the new edition, the publishers decided not to reuse the original, rather old-fashioned, eccentric-looking plates of Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). Instead, they commissioned the noted "new man of the 60s" Fred Barnard, who produced wholly new, more realistic wood-engravings. David Copperfield was issued in the same light green cover and large-scale format as other volumes in the Household Edition, with lettering and images of Pickwick, Pecksniff, Uriah Heep, and Captain Cuttle gold-embossed. As Robert L. Patten explains,

the Household Edition (1871-9) converted hundreds of Browne's loose drawings into wood engravings, accompanied with new pictorial embellishments by Fred Barnard, Charles Green, and others. [ 292]

The size of each volume — 25.8 centimetres high by 19 centimetres wide for the British text, 24 centimetres high by 17 centimetres wide for the American text — as compared with the smaller format of the original edition permitted the inclusion of more illustrations and larger print. As was typical of this densely illustrated Anglo-American production, David Copperfield contains sixty-one new illustrations plus an initial lithograph of Dickens based on an 1868 photograph. The majority of Fred Barnard's wood-engravings each occupy a half-page, usually mounted so that the picture occupies the centre of each page, leaving about a quarter of a page above and below for the letterpress. In almost all cases, the illustration is not related to the text on either the facing page or the same page, but rather to a passage occurring pages later. These half-page wood engravings are approximately 9.5 centimetres high by 14 centimetres wide (i. e., roughly 4 inches by 5.5 inches, the heights varying slightly) and are, in the manner of the Christmas Books of the 1840s "dropped" into the text, although framed rather than vignetted for the most part. A notable feature of the volume is four particularly effective, full-page, framed wood-engravings vertically oriented without printing on the verso (opposite pages 14, 78, 225, and 396, and unnumbered). As with other volumes in the Household Edition, the illustrator of this Copperfield had to utlize rather than ignore the conventional images of the Dickensian characters established in the monthly serial illustrations of George Cruikshank, George Cattermole, and Phiz, and Barnard generally chose to realize textual moments not illustrated in the earlier editions. Although the pagination and page format of the Household Edition differ in the American and British versions, the plates and their captions are identical, except that the full-page illustration "The Storm" opposite p. 396 in the London edition appears as a frontispiece in the Harper and Brothers version, which contains only 361 numbered pages to Chapman and Hall's 437.

For the first third of Phiz's serial narrative-pictorial sequence of forty plates issued at the rate of two per month from May 1849 through November 1850, David as a child is a constant presence, there being but two exceptions, in "The Rookery" and "Little Emily," the frontispiece and title-page respectively which depict the single figures of Aunt Besty outside the Copperfield home and Emily with the boathouse in the background. Thereafter, the adolescent and adult narrator-protagonist appears, often centrally, in every single-page illustration. In contrast, Barnard excuses the protagonist from five (i. e., 8%) of his sixty-one woodcuts. In the first third of the illustrations for the Household Edition, David appears as a child, the dramatic shift to a late adolescent David occurring at plate 20, in which one might easily mistake David for Steerforth in his interview with Miss Larkins (p. 129). Of the remaining twenty recurring characters in the sixty-one wood-engravings, the most significant, all depicted in the final "retrospective" (plate 61), are Steerforth and Dora (seven appearances each, plus their miniature presences in the final plate), Mr. Micawber, Aunt Betsy, Uriah Heep, Dora, Ham, and of course Agnes (six each); Mr. Dick, Daniel and Clara Pegotty (five each), and Dr. Strong (four). Whereas Phiz often depicted his protagonist in group settings, including the Peggottys and the school, only eighteen of Barnard's images involve such social settings. David and Mr. Micawber each appear once as single studies, and Ham Peggotty in "The Storm" is clearly the focus of the last, large-scale plate despite the presence of three other young fishermen, left. Rather, Barnard prefers to show David in a relation to one other character—of his twenty-two two-figure plates, David is absent only from four. Thus, for Barnard David is the story's touchstone, the one character who connects all the others and unifies the visual narrative as his voice and evaluative consciousness do the letterpress. In the eighteen three-figure plates, Barnard presents David in relation to Ham and Clara Peggotty, Barkis, teachers Creakle and Sharp, Mick Walker and Mealey Potatoes at the bottling factory, the Strongs, Steerforth, Aunt Betsy, Tommy Traddles, Dora on five occasions, Mr. Omer. Miss Mowcher, Daniel Peggotty, Uriah Heep, and Mr. Dick. The overall effect in Barnard's sequence is to make the Bildungsroman the story of David's relationships with trying or supportive individuals rather than, as in Phiz's sequence, groups of people representing various strata of society.

Related Material


Barnard, J. "Fred" (illustrator). Charles Dickens's The Personal History of David Copperfield, with sixty-one illustrations. The Works of Charles Dickens: The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall; New York: Harper and Brothers, 1872.

Dickens, Charles. The Personal History David Copperfield. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: The Nonesuch Press, rpt. London, Bloomsbury: Gerald Duckworth, 2008.

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.

Kitton, Frederic G. Dickens and His Illustrators. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004.

Patten, Robert L. "Illustrators and Book Illustration." Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Ed. Paul Schlicke. Oxford & New York: Oxford U. P., 1999. Pp. 288-293.

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985.

Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Victorian Book Illustration Fred Barnard

Last modified 24 June 2009