Thomas Onwhyn's Thirty-two Additional Pickwick Plates (1837)

Thomas Onwhyn decided to capitalise on the sensational monthly sales of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club of 1836 by issuing thirty-two additional full-page illustrations in eight monthly parts (initially projected as ten). Frequently the audacious illustrator signed the engravings with the pseudonym "Samuel Weller," but a few bear Onwhyn's own initials instead, and a few are unsigned.

Grattan in Gilbert James's The Railways of England: Containing an account of heir origin, progress, and present state (1839) advertised as the Onwhyn engravings as "completed in Eight Parts, price 1 s. each, or bound in One Volume, price 9 s." However, the advertisement does not name Thomas Onwhyn as the illustrator of Samuel Weller's Illustrations to the "Pickwick Club". Among the contemporary endorsements of the series the 1839 advertisement mentions the Observer, Bell's Life in London, and the Age, the last of which hails "Samuel Weller" as a potential "second Hogarth." In 2011, a first edition of Illustrations to the Pickwick Club, edited by "Boz" [by Samuel Weller) published by Grattan in eight parts sold at Bonhams Auctioneers for $1,000 USD.

The order in which Onwhyn issued his illustrations is somewhat confusing since he tended to jump about across all serial instalments issued up to the times of composition. The following represents what he included in each of his ten numbers, which he issued somewhat across seven months, between March 30 and 30 November, 1837:

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910


Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Robert Seymour, Robert Buss, and Phiz. London: Chapman and Hall, November 1837. With 32 additional illustrations by Thomas Onwhyn (London: E. Grattan, April-November 1837).

Onwhyn, Thomas. Mr. & Mrs. John Brown's visit to London to see the Grand Exposition of All Nations: how they were astonished at its wonders!!, inconvenienced by the crowds, & frightened out of their wits, by the foreigners. London: Grattan, 1851.

Titley, Graham D. C. "Thomas Onwhyn: a Life in Illustration (1811-1886)." Pearl. University of Plymouth (2018-07-12).

Weller, Samuel. [Pseudonym of Thomas Onwhyn]. Illustrations to "The Pickwick Club," edited by "Boz." London: E. Grattan, 1839.

Created 29 February 2014