15 cm high x 9.3 cm wide, vignetted
Dickens's Little Dorrit, Vol. 12 of Charles Dickens Library Edition.
Fin-de-siécle illustrator Harry Furniss's visual overture for the 1855-57 novel, depicting most of the fifty-four named characters, and most prominently the diminutive Amy Dorrit (upper centre).
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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As a visual overture, the Furniss ornamental title-page is most effective for those readers already familiar with the characters and situations of the novel; moreover, many of these Picasso-esque sketches foreshadow the full-scale lithographs to come. In the upper-left-hand corner, the smoking Rigaud and his short, chubby companion (Cavaletto, or Mr. Baptist) anticipates such illustrations as John Baptist Runs Away from his Patron and Mrs. Clennam and the Plotters., but does not foreshadow a particular plate. On the other hand, in the second vignette in the upper register Furniss is clearly utilising The Father of the Marshalsea (facing p. 80). In one of the most conspicuous positions in the ornamental frame, upper centre, Amy Dorrit appears as she does in the facing Frontispiece and several regular illustrations. Other characters recognizable from narrative-pictorial sequences by Furniss's predecessors, Phiz in the original, nineteen-part serialisation (1855-57) and James Mahoney in the Household Edition (1873), include Jeremiah and Affery Flintwinch with Mrs. Clennam in her wheelchair (upper right); Mr. Casby, Flora and Mr. F.'s Aunt, Arthur Clennam (lower right); Mr. Meagles, Tattycoram, and Miss Wade (centre left); and the memorable Maggy in her large hat holding a toasting-fork (centre left). The vignettes, numbering thirty-six, encompass both the major and minor characters of the novel, and anticipate several specific scenes. The closest approach to Furniss's ornate frame as a visual overture to the novel is Phiz's wrapper design for the novel, Cover for monthly parts, No. 7 (June 1856), which contains a myriad of symbolic figures surrounding the title and the names of author, illustrator, and publisher. However, the meaning of most of the vignettes on the wrapper (many of them allegorical, such as the Barnacles in the top register, impeding the progress of Britannia's chariot) would not have been fully apparent to most readers until well into the nineteen-month serialisation.
The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Volume 12. Published by The Educational Book Co. Ltd., London in 1910. Hard-back binding in navy cloth covers, gilt title, author lettering, and volume number to the spine, gilt "CD" motif to the upper panel, top edge gilt, illustrated end papers. octavo. 7½'' x 5½''(i. e., 19.1 cm long by 12.8 cm wide).
Nineteenth-Century Title-Pages for British and American Editions, 1856 to 1873
Left: Phiz's original serial wrapper, cover for monthly parts, No. 9 (August 1856). Right: James Mahoney's title-page vignette for the Household Edition of the novel, Little Dorrit at the door of a cell in The Marshalsea (Untitled, 1873). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's frontispiece for the Diamond Edition, Little Dorrit and Her Father (1867). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Junior's design for the Ticknor & Fields' title-page, Diamond Edition Title-page (1867). Right: John Gilbert's title-page vignette for the third volume of the Sheldon & Co. (New York) Household Edition, "He's too proud a chap to eat it . . ." (1863). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Above: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's beautifully engraved title-page vignettes for the other Sheldon & Co. (New York) Household Edition volumes; left: Feeding the Birds (vol. 1, 1863); centre: Joyful Tidings — Book I, Ch. XXXV (vol. 2, 1863); right: Closing in — Book II, Ch. XXX" (vol. 4, 1863). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
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Last modified 24 May 2016