Setting out from London Chapter XII of Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop by Thomas Worth in the first Household Edition volume, published by Harper & Bros., New York (1872), 7: 4 1⁄16 x 5 ¼ inches (10.4 x 13.4 cm) framed.

Passage Anticipated: Leaving London at Dawn in June

Right: Harry Furniss's character study of Nell and her grandfather on the highroad: The Wanderers in his 1910 series.

It was the beginning of a day in June; the deep blue sky unsullied by a cloud, and teeming with brilliant light. The streets were, as yet, nearly free from passengers, the houses and shops were closed, and the healthy air of morning fell like breath from angels, on the sleeping town.

The old man and the child passed on through the glad silence, elate with hope and pleasure. They were alone together, once again; every object was bright and fresh; nothing reminded them, otherwise than by contrast, of the monotony and constraint they had left behind; church towers and steeples, frowning and dark at other times, now shone in the sun; each humble nook and corner rejoiced in light; and the sky, dimmed only by excessive distance, shed its placid smile on everything beneath.

Forth from the city, while it yet slumbered, went the two poor adventurers, wandering they knew not whither. [Chapter XII, 47]

Commentary: The Morning of the Trents' Departure

Right: The derivative title-page vignette for the American "New Illustrated Library Edition," Vols. VI and VII: The Wanderers and Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness (1876).

The plate, appearing at the head of Chapter One but dealing with the close of the twelfth chapter, underscores the odd relationship between the well-meaning but utterly incapable grandparent and his determined grandchild, who plays the custodial role as she attempts to escape from Quilp and keep her grandfather away from gambling. Nell 'must act as his guide, and, despite his lifetime of living in London, must guide them out of the western suburbs (as signified by the garden wall, right) and into the country.

In the original Phiz illustration, Nell and her grandfather are still in central London. Worth uses a deserted high road and a garden wall in place of the ruinous doorway (right), to suggest that the pair hope to enjoy a fresh start in life. Nell is taking them away from everything she has ever known, even though burdened by her physically and mentally decrepit grandfather, because she knows that the shop is about to be sacked by Quilp and his odious minions. But, especially to Dickens's first readers in Master Humphrey's Clock, the effect must have been one of intense defamiliarisation, as the lifeless street in no way reflects the Londoner's experience of the City, even at 7:00 A. M.

Phiz's iconic realisation of Nell's escape from London and the sexual designs of the odious dwarf: The Pilgrimage Begins (Part 8: 27 June 1840).

Another Pertinent Illustrations of the Wanderers (1867)

Right: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s depiction of the weary travellers, stopping to rest and looking back on Lodon in the distance: Little Nell and Her Grandfather (1867).

Relevant Illustrations from various editions

Scanned images 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.]


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

Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop in Master Humphrey's Clock. Illustrated by Phiz, George Cattermole, Samuel Williams, and Daniel Maclise. 3 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury and Evans, 1849.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. XII.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Thomas Worth. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Bros., 1872. I.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Charles Green. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by William H. C. Groome. The Collins' Clear-Type Edition. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1900.

_____. The Old Curiosity Shop. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. V.

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII.

Kitton, Frederic George. "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne), a Memoir, Including a Selection From His Correspondence and Notes on His Principal Works. London, George Redway, 1882.

Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Matz, B. W., and Kate Perugini. Character Sketches from Dickens. Illustrated by Harold Copping. London: Raphael Tuck, 1924.

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

Last modified 4 October 2020