From Whom We Have Great Expectations
Mr. Charles Lyall
Publisher: Herbert Watkins
Scanned image and text by George P. Landow.
[This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]
Commentary by Wilkins and Matz
In 1861 a very curious photographlc portrait of Dickens flooded the shop windows in London. The head was carte-de-visite size, supported on a tiny little body out of all proportion, and producmg a very bizarre effect. Below the picture was printed, "From whom we have Great Expectations," — an apt allusion to the novelist's story of that name. This portrait so greatly amused Dickens that he could not refrain from alluding to it in a letter to the Hon. Mrs. Richard Watson, dated Gad's Hill Place, July 8, 1861, in which he wrote: —
"I hope you may have seen a large-headed photograph with little legs, representing the undersigned, pen in hand, tapping his forehead to knock out an idea. It has sprung up so abundantly in all the shops that I am ashamed to go about town looking in at the picture-windows, which is my delight. It seems to me extraordinarily ludicrous, and much more like me than the grave portrait done in earnest. It made me laugh, when I first came upon it, until I shook in open sun-lighted Piccadilly."
The original drawing was made by Mr. Charies Lyall for Mr. Herbert Watkins, who photographed it for publication. Mr. Watkins subsequently disposed of his business to Mr. Albert Young. [Wilkins, pp. 55-56. Wikins, who never located a copy of the original, took the image from a volume by Thomas Plowman cited in the references below.]
Piowman, Thomas F. in the Days of Victoria. London: John Lane, 1918.
Wilkins, William Glyde and B. W. Matz. Charles Dickens in Caricature and Cartoon. Boston: The Bibliophile Society, 1924. No. 8.
Last modified 17 July 2007