Untitled [Lizzie and Gaffer on the Thames]

Untitled [Lizzie and Gaffer on the Thames] ." James Mahoney's third Illustration for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition, Title-page vignette. 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.5 cm high x 13.4 cm wide.

The passage illustrated, with Lizzie Hexam vigorously and confidently rowing while her grizzled, bare-armed father fishes something (or someone) from the turgid Thames waters that beat about the boat, occurs immediately below the wood-cut. The square tower of Westminster Abbey is dimly discerned on the skyline, and a large barge immediately behind the figures establishes the setting as the industrial section of the river. "She watched his face as earnestly as he watched the river" (p. 2) in the text, but in the plate she studies the river, alert to its variable currents, a pose indicative of her skill at the oar and as a navigator of those treacherous waters, her left fore-arm as powerful as the more sinewy forearms of her father. Thus, Mahoney depicts her unladylike skill and knowledge, and imbues her gaze with the "business-like usage" (2) of her father's.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]


Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. Il. James Mahoney. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall; New York, Harper Brothers, 1875.

Last modified 9 December 2010