George Cruikshank's Fairy Library. Although it is not properly part of George Cruikshank's series of illustrations for four Perrault tales revised (1853-64), his cartoon of Brooks the unscrupulous London publisher is in fact an editorial cartoon about attempts by others to capitalise on Cruikshank's successes as a children's book illustrator by publishing "piracies" or imitations of George Cruikshank's Fairy Library (1853-65).(5.8 cm high by 7 cm wide, vignetted) — an addendum to Cruikshank's illustrations for the 1865 anthology,
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The illustrations appearing here are from the collection of the commentator.
Cruikshank's Commentary (1860)
'The Person whom you will please to observe I have here taken by the nose with a pair of tongs, has been for some time past employing my nephew, Mr. Percy Cruikshank (who is a wood-engraver, and a very excellent, industrious, worthy, good fellow), to illustrate in a very cheap and common way, and at the lowest possible (I may say shameful prices), all the old fairy tales, and a variety of little story-books, publishing and advertising them as "illustrated by Cruikshank". As most persons suppose when a work is advertised as illustrated by "Cruikshank" that it means me, I need hardly say that it would appear as if this Mr. Brooks, publishing under the name of Read, is endeavouring to impose upon the public, and this course I find he had been pursuing for the last three years, and by thus advertising and using the name of "Cruikshank" only, has done, and is doing me a VERY SERIOUS INJURY, 1 for he cares not how slightly or commonly these illustrations are done so long as he gives the name to carry them off. Upon discovering that he was carrying on his system to a very considerable extent I went to this Brooks, alias Read, and complained of his leaving out my nephew's Christian name ("Percy"), and asked him to insert it in his advertisements and on the covers of all his books, but he declared he would not do so, and added that my nephew's name was "Cruikshank", and he should use it as he thought proper. I need, surely, say no more to prove that his object is clearly to impose upon and deceive the public.
'In such a case as this what would the reader do, or advise me to do? I cannot, as a gentleman, descend to any vulgar assault, and the law gives me no protection or redress, without the risk of great expense, from the "glorious uncertainty of the law".
'But feeling that I must do something in "self-defence", I take him, as you see, by the nose with a pair of tongs (in the same way as I once served a publisher of the name of Kidd), and thus, by holding him up to the public gaze, endeavour to save them from further imposition, and myself from further injury. The Press has, upon several occasions, assisted me in exposing this sort of imposition, and, recollecting their former kindness, I hope to experience the same support in this instance.'
1 I say serious injury, because I find that many persons who have purchased this Read's Fairy Tales, thinking they were my illustrations, have been astonished, regretting to find them so far inferior to my usual works. — A Pop-Gun Fired off by George Cruikshank, in Defence of the British Volunteers of 1803, Against the Uncivil Attack upon that Body by General W. Napier, etc., cited in McLean, p. 95-96.
- "Frauds on the Fairies" (1 October 1853)
- Editor's Note on "Frauds on the Fairies"
- Defending the Imagination: Charles Dickens, Children's Literature, and the Fairy Tale Wars
- George Cruikshank and Charles Dickens
- Fairy Tales: Surviving the Evangelical Attack
Bentley, Nicolas; Michael Slater and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
British Library. "George Cruikshank's Fairy Library." Romantics and Victorians. https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/george-cruikshanks-fairy-library
Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Pritchard. The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1984.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Part One, "Dickens and His Early Illustrators: 1. George Cruikshank. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio University Press, 1980. Pp. 15-38.
Cruikshank, George. George Cruikshank's Fairy Library: "Hop-O'-My-Thumb," "Jack and the Bean-Stalk," "Cinderella," "Puss in Boots". London: George Bell, 1865.
Cruikshank, George. "Read's Fairy-Tales." A Pop-Gun Fired off by George Cruikshank, in Defence of the British Volunteers of 1803, Against the Uncivil Attack upon that Body by General W. Napier, etc.. Eight wood-engravings. London: 1860.
McLean, Ruari. George Cruikshank: His Life and Work as a Book Illustrator. English Masters of Black-and-White. London: Art and Technics, 1948.
Last modified 7 July 2017