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 second volume, entitled Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, precedes the third volume, entitled Oliver Twist and A Child's History of England (probably because the novel in that volume was the next that Dickens published after Pickwick). Owing to the length of Pickwick (817 pages and a nineteen-month serialisation), editor J. A. Hammerton did not need to fill out this volume with short stories or journalistic pieces, so that all forty-one original plates by Furniss relate to the novel.

Bibliographical Information

Although series editor, J. A. Hammerton, does not specifically mention the recently published Chapman and Hall anthology of the Household Edition illustrations, these large-scale composite woodblock engravings from the first British uniform edition of Dickens's complete works must have had almost as muchof an impact on Furniss's extensive program as the original Cruikshank and Phiz illustrations:

The first popular edition of Pickwick was issued in the autumn of 1847, with a new preface by Dickens and a frontispiece by C. R. Leslie, R. A. It would be something of a task to enumerate all the editions that have since appeared, or to give an account of the different artists who have exercised their pencils on the Pickwick group of characters. Mr. Joseph Grego has devoted an important two-volume work to the latter subject, reviewing all the "extra illustrations" and containing 350 pictures; while Mssrs. Chapman & Hall have recently issued an edition of Pickwick in which 269 illustrations have been brought together. It is doubtful whether any single work has ever attracted so many noteworthy artists. ["The Story of This Book," vii-viii]

The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Volume II. Published by The Educational Book Co. Ltd., London in 1910. Hard-back binding in navy cloth covers, gilt title, author lettering, and volume number to the spine, gilt "CD" motif to the upper panel, top edge gilt, illustrated end papers. octavo. 7½" x 5½" (i. e., 19.1 cm long by 12.8 cm wide).

Harry Furniss's Illustrations for Pickwick (1910)

Not all of Furniss's forty-one pen-and-ink drawings for The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club are up to his usual standard, despite what the editor for the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition, J. A. Hammerton, describes as "the quenchless fun of the Pickwick Papers" (i) as inspiration for generations of visual artists, beginning with Robert Seymour in 1836. However, in his individual portraits of the various Pickwickians and lesser characters in the picaresque novel Furniss effectively synthesizes the work of the illustrators who preceded him, particularly Phiz in the 1836-37 original serial and the 1874 Household Edition. These full-page lithographs have the merit of being, as the title-page proclaims them, "original." Volume 2 in this wholly new edition, illustrated entirely by one gifted caricaturist, the Charles Dickens library Edition had the virtue of uniformity, beginning with a dramatic frontispiece and engraved title-page showing all the characters in miniature, and in relation to one another in the ornate border, and including numerous character studies, such as the enraged Sergeant Buzfuz in Chapter 34. In some cases, Furniss re-imagines the material handed down to him by previous illustrators with daring innovation ‐ Mr. Pickwick under the Ice rather than on being a prime example of something new out of something old. Sometimes Furniss yields to the temptation to exaggerate the caricatures with unfortunate results as inMr. Pickwick at Cards — Losing (Ch. 35), and his crowd scenes in this volume such as are generally muddled, such as The Election (Ch. 13).

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910

Nineteenth-Century Frontispieces for British and American Editions, 1836 to 1874

Above: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's beautifully engraved title-page vignettes for the Sheldon & Co. (New York) Household Edition volumes; left: Making a Start (vol. 1) 1861; centre: Joyful Tidings — Book I, Ch. XXXV (vol. II, 1863); right: Closing in — Book II, Ch. XXX (vol. 4, 1863).

Forty-two Plates in the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


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Scenes and characters from the works of Charles Dickens; being eight hundred and sixty-six drawings, by Fred Barnard, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz); J. Mahoney; Charles Green; A. B. Frost; Gorgon Thomson; J. McL. Ralston; H. French; E. G. Dalziel; F. A. Fraser, and Sir Luke Fildes; printed from the original woodblocks engraved for "The Household Edition." London & New York: Chapman and Hall, 1908.

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Created 16 November 2019

Last modified 15 March 2024