Will you have some of this?" said the Fat Boy by Thomas Nast. Illustration for the Household Edition of Dickens's Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Chapter 54, 314.

Bibliographical Note

Nast designed this illustration for the culmination of the Fat Boy thread in Chapter LIV, "Containing Some Particulars Relative to the Double Knock, and Other Matters: Among which Certain Interesting Disclosures Relative to Mr. Snodgrass and a Young Lady are by No Means Irrelevant to This History," page 314. Wood-engraving, 4 ⅛ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (10.59 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the same page; descriptive headline: "Tender as well as Fat" (VI: 315). [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Context of the Illustration: From Gourmandizing to Romance

"Will you have some of this?" said the fat boy, plunging into the pie up to the very ferules of the knife and fork.

"A little, if you please," replied Mary.

The fat boy assisted Mary to a little, and himself to a great deal, and was just going to begin eating when he suddenly laid down his knife and fork, leaned forward in his chair, and letting his hands, with the knife and fork in them, fall on his knees, said, very slowly —

"I say! How nice you look!"

This was said in an admiring manner, and was, so far, gratifying; but still there was enough of the cannibal in the young gentleman's eyes to render the compliment a double one.

"Dear me, Joseph," said Mary, affecting to blush, "what do you mean?" [The Household Edition, Chapter 54: Chapman & Hall, VI, 380; Harper & Bros., VI, 314-315]


Right: Phiz's original November 1837 illustration of the kitchen scene in which the corpulent Joe offers to serve the slender Mary a piece of the pie: Mary and the Fat Boy in the final, double number (Chapter 54).

Thomas Nast, with a cartoonist's sense of caricature, found Dickens's "Fat Boy" — Wardle's page, Joe — an irresistible subject, if one may judge by the frequency with which the American visual satirist depicted Wardle's page: we see him first interrupting Tupman's courtship of Rachael Wardle in "He knows nothing of what has happened," he whispered; he again occurs in the background of "I wish you'd let me bleed you" in the "Pickwick on ice" sequence; and Joe the fat boy is on the right margin in the background of the scene in which Pickwick falls through the ice at Dingley Dell, A large mass of ice disappeared. Consequently, Nast has realised this relatively minor, one-dimensional character a total of four times in fifty-two illustrations. Phiz, on the other hand, included Joe just twice in the original serial — in the November 1837 engraving The Fat Boy Awake Again and another November 1837 engraving Mary and The Fat Boy (see above). In the 1873-74 Chapman and Hall Household Edition, Joe occurs four times: Mr. Tupman looked round. There was the fat boy; Sam looked at the Fat Boy with great astonishment, but without saying a word; Before Mr. Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the whole body, and kissed by every one of them in the lower right of the Christmas Eve party scene; and "I say, how nice you look" (see below). The increased interest in Joe by both of the Household Edition illustrators, although they appear to have operated independently of one another, probably reflects the reading public's continuing to delight in the sardonic character over the four decades since Chapman and Hall first revealed Joe to the reading public in June 1836 (although he did not appear in the accompanying illustrations until January 1837). Most significant in the context of this Nast illustration is Joe's final appearance in the 1837 serial, "Will you have some of this?" said the Fat Boy (see above).

The reader here cannot see the Fat Boy's facial expression, merely his enormous girth (which Nast has established earlier in the narrative-pictorial series) as he opens the "jolly" meat-pie with surgical precision and Mary holds out her plate. Nast does not detail the background; his only significant objects are the enormous pie and the pewter flagon just behind it. Nast's Mary is a moderately attractive young woman, but no beauty compared to the young woman across the table from Joe in Phiz's 1837 and 1873 illustrations. While Nast does not seem to have apprehended the sexual implications of the kitchen scene, Phiz in the parallel Household Edition volume issued in Great Britain has reduced such implications in his later treatment by adjusting Joe's expression. In Phiz's orginal 1837 engraving, Joe seems captivated by the face and figure of the maid, whereas in the 1873 treatment Joe seems almost asleep: his eyes are closed, and his cheeks are bulging with food, although his knife and fork still point towards Mary in what a modern reader might regard as a phallic manner.

The Relevant Illustration from the other Household Edition volume (1874)

Above: Phiz's revised version of the kitchen scene, "I say, how nice you look" (Chapter 54).

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74

Related Material

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.]


Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.

_______. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. 16 vols. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1873. VI.

_______. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874. VI.

Last modified 21 September 2021