Harry Furniss's eighteen-volume edition of The Charles Dickens Library (London: Educational Book Company, 1910) contains some 500 special plates (part of the total of 1200 illustrations in the set) and two volumes of commentary. Volume 17, edited by J. A. Hammerton and containing just two original Furniss illustrations — the self-portrait Harry Furniss, From a sketch by himself (1910) and Characters in the Stories (the ornamental border of the title-page), is entitled The Dickens Picture Book: A Record of the Dickens Illustrators. Since the order of the volumes is roughly chronological, the twelfth volume, entitled Little Dorrit, precedes the thirteenth volume, entitled A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, Pictures from Italy (probably because the novel in that volume was the next that Dickens published after Little Dorrit, the eleventh volume being Bleak House, the novel that immediately proceeded Little Dorrit. Owing to the length of Little Dorrit (a nineteen-month serialisation), editor J. A. Hammerton did not need to fill out the volume with short stories or journalistic pieces, so that all twenty-nine original plates by Furniss relate to the novel.

The final volume of the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition is The Dickens Companion: A Book of Anecdote and Reference. Whereas the muti-volumed Household Edition, issued in tandem by Chapman and Hall and Harper and Brothers throughout the 1870s involved some sixteen American and British illustrators working in the new mode of the Sixties and providing more than a thousand wood-engravings for the thirty-eight volumes, Harry Furniss singlehandedly produced five hundred full-page lithographs and wood-engravings — a prolific output and singular achievement for but one artist. Furniss was fortunate in that he had as precedents for his twenty-nine lithographs (based on staccato pen-and-ink drawing) both the serial program of forty illustrations by Dickens's long-term collaborator Hablot Knight Brown and the wholly new, generally half-page composite woodblock illustrations by the Sixties' caricaturist and realist James Mahoney in the Household Edition of 1873, which contains an extended program of fifty-eight illustrations which focus on Little Dorrit and Arthur Clennam.

For all twenty-nine of the illustrations for the Little Dorrit in volume 12, the series editor, J. A. Hammerton, has included both succinct captions (given in full below) and extended quotations (sometimes synopses or condensed versions of the letterpress) to demonstrate the textual moment realised in each; moreover, each quotation refers to a specific page number, thereby enabling the reader to find the passage illustrated. The exception to this standard mode of presentation and captioning is the frontispiece (merely labelled Little Dorrit and the character study (without benefit of setting or backdrop) of Mr. Dorrit. As usual in the volumes of The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Furniss provides an ornately bordered title-page, listed as Characters in the Story in the "List of Special Plates" (p. vii). Although each page is 12.2 by 18.4 cm (4.75 by 7.25 inches) and the caption below each in upper-case, and below that occurs a multi-line quotation in upper and lower case, each plate is effectively 14.3 cm by 9.2 cm (5.5 inches by 3.25 inches), the vertically-mounted illustrations usually being framed, and the horizontally-mounted illustrations being vignetted. Aside from the twenty-one multiple-character groupings as title-page vignettes surrounding the title, of the twenty-eight full-page illustrations, only twelve are devoted to the episodes that follow the Dorrit inheritance (Book the Second, "Riches"). Mrs. Clennam's confidential clerk appears only twice in the Furniss sequence, the nominal heroine eight times, and Arthur Clennam just twice. The ornate border for the title-page suggests a more rational emphasis on the story's chief characters,with Little Dorrit in the centre of the top border, her grandiose father at the centre of the bottom border, and Arthur Clennam in the bottom right-hand corner. Other immediately recognizable figures are Maggy with her toasting fork (just above centre in the left-hgand border), Flora and Mr. F.'s Aunt (bottom of the right-hand border), Rigaud-Blandois and John Baptist (upper-left hand corner), and artist Henry Gowan (left of centre in the bottom border). — Philip V. Allingham.

Little Dorrit

Related Materials

References

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Authentic Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1901 [rpt. of the 1868 volume, based on the 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.

Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Schlicke, Paul, ed. The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999.

Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1985.


Last modified 22 May 2016