Decorated initial T

he Household Edition offered Dickens's publishers in London and New York the chance to present a coherent series of illustrations for the thirty-year-old novel; in fact, these editions (illustrated by Thomas Worth in 1872 and Charles Green in 1876) represent the first time that a single illustrator had provided a long program for the 1840 novel, as the short series of illustrations in the 1867 Diamond Edition by Eytinge merely describes the story's principal characters in a series of character studies not unlike those of Darley in the title-page vignettes of the Sheldon and Company edition of 1862. However, neither Household Edition illustrator presents an extended visual program in the case of The Old Curiosity Shop, whose original program in Master Humphrey's Clock throughout 1840. As Chris Louttit explains, most of the Household Edition volumes present an increased number of large-scale wood-engravings, as compared to the more limited number of smaller-scale steel engravings in such nineteen-part novels such as Pickwick (serialised monthly in 1836-37) and Bleak House (serialised monthly in 1852-53). In the Household Edition of the latter title, for example, the  illustrator added twenty scenes to the narrative-pictorial sequence:

This structural dissimilarity is also evident, in various ways, at the level of content and style. There is certainly a shift in the frequency of scenes and characters illustrated, since Fred Barnard completed 61 illustrations, as opposed to the 36 that appeared during Bleak House’s first serial run. Indeed, this enhanced repre-sentation results in a steep rise in the creation of what Kamilla Elliott has aptly labelled “frozen moments for visual and spatial contemplation” (2003, p. 18). Paul Goldman has described the particular “‘moment’ chosen by [the] illustrator” as a significant “matter of interest and point of discussion” for readers of anillustrated text (2012, p. 25); the increased number of these moments in Barnard’s Bleak House, in turn, opens up the possibility of new emphases and visual read-ings of Dickens’s text. [Louttit, 152]

However, the situations for Worth's fifty-three illustrations (1872) and Green's 1876 program of thirty-nine illustrations for The Old Curiosity Shop are radically different from that of the Barnard-illustrated Bleak  House. As one of Dickens's longest novels, that Bleak House should have so many illustrations over and above what Phiz contributed to the original serial edition should come as no surprise. Such is not the case for the original serial illustrations of The Old Curiosity Shop, developed by a team of illustrators. The 1840-41 serial, issued weekly, runs to seventy-two regular illustrations plus a dozen vignette-letters. Moreover, whereas the original serials from The Pickwick Papers onward usually have steel-engravings on facing pages, both Master Humphrey's Clock novels (1840-41) have high-quality wood-engravings dropped directly into the text, often framed by the textual passages they complement. Although the caricatural style of the 1840 illustrations is very much of the era, the frequency and placement of the numerous illustrations in  Master Humphrey's Clock anticipate the practice of Dickens's later illustrators in the Household Edition (1871-79).


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. 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.

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.

Last modified 4 October 2020