Henry Matthew Brock (1875-1960), the son of a specialist reader in oriental languages for Cambridge University Press, was the brother of the better-known artist Charles Edmund Brock (1870-1938), with whom he shared a studio. Like his brother, he contributed to the great magazine of Victorian humour, Punch, but unlike Charles Edmund, who painted in oils and was elected a member of the British Institution, the younger Brock worked in advertising. In addition to illustrating Great Expectations, he did four colour plates for the 1935 A Christmas Carol, and he was one of seven artists who contributed illustrations to Conan Doyle's His Last Bow (1909).

According to Paul Schlicke, "In 1901-3 the Gresham Publishing Company [34 Southampton Street, The Strand, London] . . . produced an incomplete edition, the Imperial Edition in sixteen volumes, including Gissing's Charles Dickens, A Critical Study and 'topographical illustrations' by Kitton" (p. 207). H. M. Brock's eight illustrations for Great Expectations range from late Victorian through Impressionistic in style, each containing a quotation within the frame to indicate the precise moment illustrated. The pictorial/narrative sequence emphasizes the centrality of Pip; of the other characters depicted, only Estella and Jaggers appear more than once.

The relatively minor "framed" tale for Christmas, The Holly-Tree Inn, first appeared in Household Words in the special number for Christmas 1855. Of the seven "framed tales" in The Holly-Tree Inn Dickens determined the framework by contributing "The Guest," "The Boots," and "The Bill," the other contributors being his chief collaborator, Wilkie Collins, William Howitt, Adelaide Anne Procter, and Harriet Parr ("Holme Lee"). Although the present children's volume, published by the London firm of Hodder and Stoughton, bears no date, the 7.5 inch by 6.0 inch grey-covered little book probably dates from early December 1916. Its front cover advertises it as a "Christmas Book," bearing a snowy, coloured-lithographic scene including two horses, a postillion, and a post-chaise just arrived outside an old Yorkshire inn with an ostler and woman in eighteenth-century costumes. [The present volume is something of a rarity, one in fine condition fetching as much $80 USD.]


Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Illustrated by Henry Matthew Brock. London: Hodder and Stoughton, n. d. [1916].

_____________. The Holly-Tree Inn. The Imperial Edition. Illustrated by Henry Matthew Brock. London: Gresham, 1901-3.

Schlicke, Paul, ed. Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford: Oxford UP, [1999].

Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and the Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

Created 31 January 2016

Last updated 11 September 2021