Harry Furniss's eighteen-volume edition of The Charles Dickens Library, which the Educational Book Company published in London in 1910. contains some 500 special plates (out of the total of 1200 illustrations) plus two volumes of commentary. Whereas the muti-volumed Household Edition, issued in tandem by Chapman and Hall in London and Harper and Brothers in New York throughout the 1870s involved some sixteen American and British illustrators working in the new, realistic mode of the Sixties and providing more than a thousand composite woodblock engravings for the thirty-eight volumes (twenty-two in the British edition, but just sixteen in the American), Harry Furniss singlehandedly produced five hundred full-page lithographs from pen-and-ink — a prolific output and singular achievement for but one artist.

For all thirty of the illustrations for the Christmas Books illustrations in volume VIII, the series editor, J. A. Hammerton, has included both succinct captions (given in full below) and extended quotations to demonstrate the textual moment realised in each; moreover, each quotation refers to a specific page number, thereby enabling the reader to find the exact passage illustrated. 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 both framed (if lithographs) and vignetted (if wood-engravings).

Aside from the title-page vignettes in Characters in the Story, of the thirty full-page illustrations, eight are devoted to A Christmas Carol, five to The Chimes, six to The Cricket on the Hearth, five to The Battle of Life, and six to The Haunted Man. Of the eight Carol plates, only two are highly derivative: Marley's Ghost and The last of the Spirits are clearly based on the John Leech originals of 1843. Furniss's contribution to the iconographic traditions of the Carol is the multiple-thumbnail lithographs Scrooge Objects to Christmas, Scrooge's Solitary Dinner, and Phantoms in the Street. Indeed, only in Furniss's illustrations for the next Christmas Book, The Chimes, do we find conventional line drawings involving just a few characters. The proportion of illustrations per novella, then, is approximately that of Fred Barnard's illustrations for the British Household Edition of The Christmas Books, which distributes its twenty-nine illustrations as follows: six to A Christmas Carol, five to The Chimes, six (including the title-page vignette) to The Cricket on the Hearth, five to The Battle of Life, and seven to The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain.

Other Volumes in Hamerton’s Edition

Volume 17 of the edition by J. A. Hammerton, is entitled The Dickens Picture Book: A Record of the Dickens Illustrators. The eighth volume, which is entitled Christmas Books, in fact also contains a collection of his journalistic essays from All the Year Round in the 1860s, The Uncommercial Traveller, and The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices from Household Words, published in four parts in October, 1857. The final volume of the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition is The Dickens Companion: A Book of Anecdote and Reference.

A Christmas Carol

The Chimes

The Cricket on the Hearth

The Battle of Life

The Haunted Man

The Uncommercial Traveller

The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices

Related Materials

Scanned images 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.]


Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. VIII.

Created 10 August 2013

Last modified 29 February 2020