The Death of Nancy

Harry Furniss


14.3 x 9.4 cm framed

Twenty-seventh illustration for The Adventures of Oliver Twist in Oliver Twist and A Child's History of England, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 3, facing 360.

Dickens's original illustrator, George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany did not focus on the murder of Nancy; rather, Furniss's model was apparently the James Mahoney dark plate for Chapter 48 in the third volume of the Household Edition, He moved, backwards, towards the door: dragging the dog with him. However, whereas Mahoney merely darkened the crime scene, depicting Sikes's leaving, Furniss has blacked out the room, focussing on Bill Sikes's deadly club and the white handkerchief that Nancy, already struck down, holds aloft as a signifier of her innocence. [Click on illustration to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

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