Little Em'ly presented to Steerforth by Harry Furniss. Fourth illustration for Dickens's Personal History and Experience of David Copperfield, Volume 10 in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), Chapter XIII, "The Sequel of My Resolution," facing page 192. 9 x 13.8 cm (3 ½ by 5 ⅜ inches) vignetted. Caption: But Mrs. Gummidge was not the only person who was unusually excited. Mr. Peggotty's face was lighted up with uncommon satisfaction, while Ham held little Em'ly by the hand.Copperfield, p. 331. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: The Peggottys' Domestic Idyll Disrupted

Kyd's 1910 Player's cigarette card no. 40 representing the working-class Pater Familias: Dan'l Peggotty (c. 1910).

A murmur of voices had been audible on the outside, and, at the moment of our entrance, a clapping of hands: which latter noise, I was surprised to see, proceeded from the generally disconsolate Mrs. Gummidge. But Mrs. Gummidge was not the only person there who was unusually excited. Mr. Peggotty, his face lighted up with uncommon satisfaction, and laughing with all his might, held his rough arms wide open, as if for little Em’ly to run into them; Ham, with a mixed expression in his face of admiration, exultation, and a lumbering sort of bashfulness that sat upon him very well, held little Em’ly by the hand, as if he were presenting her to Mr. Peggotty; little Em’ly herself, blushing and shy, but delighted with Mr. Peggotty’s delight, as her joyous eyes expressed, was stopped by our entrance (for she saw us first) in the very act of springing from Ham to nestle in Mr. Peggotty’s embrace. In the first glimpse we had of them all, and at the moment of our passing from the dark cold night into the warm light room, this was the way in which they were all employed: Mrs. Gummidge in the background, clapping her hands like a madwoman.

The little picture was so instantaneously dissolved by our going in, that one might have doubted whether it had ever been. I was in the midst of the astonished family, face to face with Mr. Peggotty, and holding out my hand to him, when Ham shouted:

"Mas’r Davy! It’s Mas’r Davy!"

In a moment we were all shaking hands with one another, and asking one another how we did, and telling one another how glad we were to meet, and all talking at once. Mr. Peggotty was so proud and overjoyed to see us, that he did not know what to say or do, but kept over and over again shaking hands with me, and then with Steerforth, and then with me, and then ruffling his shaggy hair all over his head, and laughing with such glee and triumph, that it was a treat to see him. [Chapter XXI, "Little Em'ly," 311]

Commentary: At the Peggottys' Houseboat Once More

Harry Furniss, like Phiz in the original serial engraving for November 1848, shows the scene in which two sets of familiar characters converge: Steerforth and David (the well-to-do outsiders or "tourists," so to speak) and the Peggottys, working-class denizens of Yarmouth. While Ham, Mrs. Gummidge, and Mr. Peggotty have not changed much in appearance since the day that Clara Peggotty drove off with Em'ly and David to marry the "willing" Barkis, Em'ly, although still "little" compared to the others in her blended family, has grown up. Significantly, Furniss, like Phiz, depicts David as "little" for an adult, too. Into this Eden of simple, hard-working souls always acting in harmony, David now unwittingly introduces the Satanic Steerforth, a womanizing cad who cannot resist the opportunity to seduce the beautiful adolescent, violating the hospitality and kindness of the girl's family.

Other Studies of David and Steerforth at the Peggottys' fireside from Other Editions

Left: Phiz's original serial illustration of the gentlemanly tourists' visit: We arrive unexpectedly at Mr. Peggotty's fireside Instal No. 7, November 1849). Right: Fred Barnard's Household Edition version of the same scene emphasizes the close relationship between Em'ly and Ham: Presently they brought her to the fireside, very much confused, and very shy (1872). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Relevant Illustrated Editions of this Novel (1849 through 1910)

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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.

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

Dickens, Charles. The Personal History of David Copperfield, illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Centenary Edition. London & New York: Chapman & Hall, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911. 2 vols.

_______. The Personal History of David Copperfield. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. Vol. V.

_______. David Copperfield, with 61 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872. Vol. III.

_______. The Personal History and Experiences of David Copperfield. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol. X.

Hammerton, J. A., ed. The Dickens Picture-Book: A Record of the the Dickens Illustrations. London: Educational Book, 1910.

Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U. P., 1978.

Created 6 March 2022