The Dorrit Brothers in the 
Marshalsea

The Dorrit Brothers in the Marshalsea by Harry Furniss. 1910. 9.6 x 15 cm. Dickens's Little Dorrit, volume 12, The Charles Dickens Library Edition, facing page 224. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

The brothers William and Frederick Dorrit, walking up and down the College-yard — of course on the aristocratic or Pump side, for the Father made it a point of his state to be chary of going among his children on the Poor side, except on Sunday mornings, Christmas Days, and other occasions of ceremony, in the observance whereof he was very punctual, and at which times he laid his hand upon the heads of their infants, and blessed those young insolvents with a benignity that was highly edifying — the brothers, walking up and down the College-yard together, were a memorable sight. Frederick the free, was so humbled, bowed, withered, and faded; William the bond, was so courtly, condescending, and benevolently conscious of a position; that in this regard only, if in no other, the brothers were a spectacle to wonder at. — Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 19, "The Father of The Marshalsea in Two or Three Relations," p. 229.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Commentary

Furniss's re-interpretation of the Dorrit brothers in the scenes leading up to William Dorrit's apotheosis is based less on both Mahoney's scene of the exiting procession in Marshalsea yard, Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate (Book One, Chapter 36) and more on the Phiz original, The Brothers for Book 1, Ch. 19. Avoiding the same scene of departure drafted so effectively by Phiz and redrafted by Mahoney to focus on the contrasting figures of the brothers, Furniss sets the Dorrits against a detailed backdrop of the College Yard and in the context of purposeless, tawdry insolvents, still attempting to dress as members of the middle class but clearly lacking bourgeois work ethic and sense of propriety. Furniss lavishes his attention and satirical pen upon those who gave the place its unsavoury reputation. The elder Dorrit, knowledgable about the place and its inmates, acts as Frederick Dorrit's tour-guide, pointing out features of the Marshalsea and various characters with interesting backgrounds. All the figures in the scene are charged with Furniss's powers of humourous observation and kinetic energy, and yet all are caricatures in contrast to James Mahoney's quiet, almost mundane realism.

The Dorrits in the original, American Household, and Diamond Editions, 1857-1867

Left: F. O. C. Darley's 1863 frontispiece of the scene in which William Dorrit learns of his providential inheritance, Joyful Tidings (Volume 2). Centre: Phiz's original serial illustration The Marshalsea becomes an orphan for Book 1, Ch. 36 (Part 10, September 1856), in which the Father of the Marshalsea triumphantly conducts his family through the central courtyard and off to freedom (stage right). Right: Sol Eytinge, Junior's interpretation of the musical younger brother, Amy's uncle, Frederick Dorrit (1867). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Hablot Knight Browne's first view of the prison's exercise yard, The Brothers (May 1856: Part 6). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Above: James Mahoney's revision of Phiz's steel engraving in which the focus is the Dorrit brothers rather than the crowd, Through these spectators, the little procession, headed by the two brothers, moved slowly to the gate, Book One, Ch. 36 (1873). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Bibliography

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Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1999.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Authentic Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1901 [rpt. 30 May 1857 volume].

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. 14 vols.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by James Mahoney. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873. Vol. 5.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 12.

Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 19: Little Dorrit." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. Vol. 17. Pp. 398-427.

Kitton, Frederic George. Dickens and His Illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz," Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Landseer, Palmer, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes. Amsterdam: S. Emmering, 1972. Re-print of the London 1899 edition.

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Last modified 19 March 2016