xxx xxx

Vignette [Krook and His Cat, beside the doorway of his rag-and-bone shop]. Bleak House, Household Edition, by Fred Barnard, facing the frontispiece. 1873. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 3 x 2 inches (7.9 x 5.2 cm vignetted). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated

"That will do, Krook. You mean well, but are tiresome. My young friends are pressed for time. I have none to spare myself, having to attend court very soon. My young friends are the wards in Jarndyce."

"Jarndyce!" said the old man with a start.

"Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The great suit, Krook," returned his lodger [, Miss Flite].

"Hi!" exclaimed the old man, in a tone of thoughtful amazement, and with a wider stare than before. "Think of it!"

He seemed so rapt all in a moment, and looked so curiously at us, that Richard said:

"Why, you appear to trouble yourself a good deal about the causes before your noble and learned brother, the other Chancellor!"

"Yes," said the old man abstractedly. "Sure! Your name now will be —"

"Richard Carstone."

"Carstone," he repeated, slowly checking off that name upon his forefinger; and each of the others he went on to mention, upon a separate finger. "Yes. There was the name of Barbary, and the name of Clare, and the name of Dedlock, too, I think." [Chapter 5, "A Morning Adventure"


Fred Barnard revised in a realistic manner Phiz's April 1852 steel-engraving of Krook and his shop that accompanied the novel's second monthly instalment. In the original and revised illustrations, the wards of John Jarndyce, suitors in the Court of Chancery, decide to go for an outing with Ada's companion, Esther Summerson, and the young lady of the house where they are staying, Caddy Jellyby. They receive an invitation from the eccentric petitioner, Miss Flite (whom they had met the day before as the left the court) to accompany her to her rooms above Krook's rag and bottle shop. Shortly, the group will pass the door leading to the rented rooms of "Nemo," a legal copyist — effectively completing Dickens's introduction to the key elements of the inheritance plot and the mystery of Esther's birth. Shortly the young people will travel to Bleak House, Jarndyce's St. Alban's estate.

The proprietor of the ramshackle second-hand shop and ultimately the victim of spontaneous combustion, Mr. Krook, appears just as Dickens describes him, "an old man in spectacles and a hairy cap" in Chapter 5, "A Morning Adventure," and Barnard makes him neither a majestic guide as Sir John Gilbert did in his 1863 frontispiece nor as eccentric as Harry Furniss would do in his Charles Dickens Library Edition character study of 1910:

he was short, cadaverous, and withered; with his head sideways between his shoulders, and the breath issuing in visible smoke from his mouth, as if he were on fire within. His throat, chin, and eyebrows were so frosted with white hairs, and so gnarled with veins and puckered skin, that he looked from his breast upward, like some old root in a fall of snow.

Sol Eytinge, Jr.for the Ticknor-Fields Diamond Edition (Boston, 1867) had provided a portrait of Krook, and the third frontispiece in the 1863 Sheldon and Company Household Edition (New York) by Gilbert had portrayed Krook as a guide to the mysteries of his cavernous shop, but Fred Barnard's is the first fresh depiction of Krook for a British edition after the original narrative-pictorial sequence by Hablot Knight Browne in the nineteen-month serialisation, March 1852 through September 1853. Whereas Phiz had depicted Esther Summerson following Krook through his shop, Barnard shows the other visitors and Krook as Esther, the narrator for this portion of the novel, must have seen them.

The Original Phiz and Later Illustrations of Krook, April 1852-1910


Left: Phiz's April 1852 engraving of the scene in Krook's depository, The Lord Chancellor Copies from Memory. Centre: John Gilbert's 1863 photogravure frontispiece showing Krook guiding his fashionable young visitors and the demented Miss Flite through his cavernous emporium, A large grey cat leaped from some neighbouring shelf. . .. Right: Furniss's 1910 lithograph of a closeup of a highly eccentric Krook in his shop, leading the way, Mr. Krook and His Cat.

Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Bleak House

Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary 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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


"Bleak House — Sixty-one Illustrations by Fred Barnard." Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens, Being Eight Hundred and Sixty-six Drawings by Fred Barnard, Gordon Thomson, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), J. McL. Ralston, J. Mahoney, H. French, Charles Green, E. G. Dalziel, A. B. Frost, F. A. Fraser, and Sir Luke Fildes. London: Chapman and Hall, 1907.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1863. Vols. 1-4.

_______. Bleak House. Illustrated by Fred Barnard [61 composite wood-block engravings]. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873.

_______. Bleak House. Illustrated by Harry Furniss [28 original lithographs]. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Vol. 11.​ London: Educational Book, 1910.

Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 18: Bleak House." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII, 366-97.

Vann, J. Don. "Bleak House, twenty parts in nineteen monthly instalments, October 1846—April 1848." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1985. 69-70.

Created 20 November 2015

Last modified 31 January 2021