According to the Aardvark website, George Cruikshank (1792-1878), the English artist and illustrator, who came from an "extraordinarily talented artistic family," established himself as a prominent illustrator and cartoonist while still a young man. Working with both wood- and steel-engravings, he created an enormous amount "of lively illustrations portraying the British and their way of life with incredible vigour." His best-known illustrations of texts by others appeared in Pierce Egan's Life in London and Charles Dickens's Sketches by Boz and Oliver Twist. His own works include Comic Alphabet (which has provided some of the decorated initials used in the Victorian Web), the Comic Almanac (1835-1853), My Sketch Book, Omnibus, Three Courses and a Dessert, and Table Book.

His lively sense of humour and his inability to keep his sketching hand still made him a prodigious political and social commentator of his time. My Sketch Book is an amusing early example (1834), being just that, with no text except for the speech bubbles! Cruikshank's Tablebook (1835) has a dozen of is liveliest steel plates, together with over a hundred wood engravings scattered throughout the magazine. His satirical approach to characters contrasts sharply with the more gently humourous work of his most important contemporary, Phiz. As he grew older, he was much involved in the Temperance movement, and lost much of his artistic vigour.

Although he had a stormy relationship with Charles Dickens, they nonetheless formed a wonderful partnership, working in close collaboration on Sketches by Boz and Oliver Twist. Cruikshank also illustrated Smollett and Harrison Ainsworth.

Works Consulted

Bentley, Nicolas; Slater, Michael; and Burgis, Nina. The Dickens Index Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

"George Cruikshank," Aardvark

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

Victorian Web Charles Dickens George Cruikshank

Last modified 13 Dec 2000