Haunted p1 1848 Haunted p245

Left: The original 1848 illustration dropped into the text, page 1, with a framed area of 12 cm by 7 cm; and, right: printed page 245 for Dickens's Christmas Books, Volume Two, in Penguin Edition (1971): the framed area is 13.5 cm by 7.5 cm on a page 18 by 11 cm (the original's page is somewhat smaller: 16 by 10.2 cm).

Commentary: Dickens and His Team of Five at Work (Autumn 1848)

Ruth Glancy in "Dickens at Work on The Haunted Man" expresses the notion that the Christmas Books offered Dickens the rare opportunity "to correct an entire work before it went to press, a luxury not permitted by the serial publication of the novels" (83). In fact, in terms of instructing his artists regarding their illustrations, he had no such luxury at all. Working with Hablot Knight Browne on the Martin Chuzzlewit plates, his major publication prior to the Christmas Books, was comparatively simple. In October, 1843, while starting work on A Christmas Carol, Dickens was writing the November instalment, part eleven (Chapters 27, 28, and 29). "The routine during the composition and publication of Chuzzlewit," remarks Robert L. Patten, "in numbers was similar to that established for the previous monthly serials. The first half of each month was devoted to writing the new instalments, the second half to correcting proofs. Subjects for the plates were supplied [to Hablot Knight Browne] as early as possible, usually by the tenth" (132).

Dickens would furnish Browne ('Phiz') with a clean set of proofs and a list of suggestions for illustration. Browne would produce sketches which Dickens could then critique; thus, month in and month out, Dickens controlled an orderly programme of writing and illustration. Whatever subjects he and Phiz decided upon for the plates was immaterial, since the illustrations occupied whole pages and were included at the end of each part; the reader could locate their realised moments in the accompanying text and, if he or she so desired, have the plates bound in at those points once all nineteen numbers had been acquired.

Now, consider the illustrations for any of The Christmas Books after Leech's five free-standing steel engravings and three smaller woodblock engravings dropped into the text of A Christmas Carol: no longer working with a single illustrator, Dickens had to direct a team of artists to produce illustrations to be dropped into specific spots in the printed text over two months. The Pilgrim Edition of of the Letters of Charles Dickens, Volume V (1847-1849), reveals how tight his creative timeline was. In under eight weeks, Dickens completed the physical act of writing The Haunted Man, beginning on October 5th at Devonshire Terrace, London, and finishing on the night of 30 November, at the Bedford Hotel, Brighton. By November 15th, little more than a month before publication, he had the proofs for the first part, including Tenniel's frontispiece and title-page, but not including Stone's Milly and the Old Man to which Dickens did not respond until November 23rd. The day before, Dickens wrote to his point man, John Leech, "With a Stick" (underlined) because he was still not in possession of Leech's illustration of the Tetterby family, which would have to be dropped into the text early in part two. On 27 November, writing Stone from Brighton, Dickens had no proofs for the artist, and had to describe what he had just written ("Sir, there is a subject I have written today for the third part, that I think and hope will just suit you."). By December 1st, Leech was still not in possession of the corrected proofs for the third part, and Dickens, fearing Leech's other work was slowing him down, diplomatically asked him to pass the last illustration, the dinner in the great hall, over to Stanfield (who, though not much of a caricaturist, would handle well the architectural elements of the scene). And yet, by December 13th, Dickens was able to send Mrs. Richard Watson an advance copy, even though Forster probably did not turn over the final proofs corrected until about a week previous. Having no rush proofs for part four, Dickens elected to go twenty-nine pages without a single illustration.

An added complication was that Dickens was supplying Mark Lemon with proofs to facilitate the staging of The Haunted Man, but certainly this break-neck schedule was probably more hectic than the measured routine Dickens followed in getting out a monthly serial instalment. Robert Patten contends that Chapman and Hall's decision to reduce the ratio of illustrations to pages of letter-press from 4:32 to 2:32 in issuing the instalments of their first venture with Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, freed the young writer from his original role as commentator on Seymour's illustrations, reversing in fact the importance of writer and artist, and concomitantly the stipend paid to each:

At a single stroke something permanent and novel-like. . . was created out of something ephemeral and episodic: with sixteen pages between pictures, Dickens could expand his scenes and amplify his characterizations in ways he could not when he had to invent a new comic climax every six pages. [65]

However, that there were seventeen separate illustrations in the 188 pages of The Haunted Man (a ratio of approximately 1:12) seems not to have restricted Dickens, possibly because he was (as his correspondence makes clear) in the position to control what appeared in the pictorial portion of the narrative.

Comparison of the Formatting of Modern Texts and the 1848 First Edition

Sarah Solberg in "Text Dropped into the Woodcuts': Dickens' Christmas Books" (Dickens Studies Annual 8: 103-118) notes that the editors of the New Oxford Illustrated Edition "perverted" the original form of The Haunted Man with respect to the juxtaposition of illustration and text. This single-volume, 400-page edition has not effectively reproduced the original illustrations, but the Oxford editor, Eleanor Farjeon, has not added to or subtracted from the original letterpress, although she has a marginally increased page-size for the fully-reproduced page, so that, for example, on the page facing 373 in the Oxford edition, the wording for Leech's The Boy before the Fire (on 130 in the 1848 text) is identical ("flung his body . . . took from his"), and the image is marginally less sharp in the 1954 (rpt., 1987) edition, although the size of the image is identical: 8.5 cm by 5.9 cm, vignetted. Oxford markets its twenty-one volume series as "collectible" and "comprehensive." It may well be the latter, but the quality of the reproduction of the images is markedly inferior to that of the Penguin series.

Volume Two of the Penguin edition (1971, reprinted 1978) shows the relationship between text and image more effectively, but is not as faithful to the original. For example, although Penguin II, 245, corresponds to page 1 of the 1848 text of The Haunted Man, the original's print is larger, the spacing between lines greater, and the amount of white-space more generous. Whereas the Penguin edition has 50 words (exclusive of the chapter heading) on this page, the Bradbury and Evans original contains 21 words, according greater prominence to its illustration.

Whereas the first edition of The Haunted Man over the fifteen plates that combine text and illustration (as "plates dropped into text") averages 35 words per page, the comparable figure in the Penguin edition, despite editor Michael Slater's obvious attempt to have the paperback emulate the first edition's formatting, is 105.67 for each of the twelve pages that contain plates and text — Slater has eliminated the text entirely for plates 2, 6, and 7. The balance that the first edition sets between letter-press and illustration has been seriously disrupted in the Penguin edition, which has even altered the original order of the plates (Plate 9 occurs ahead of Plate 8). In the Penguin edition, the words that originally accompanied the plates appear eight times — in other words, for only half of the illustrations do we have the simultaneous presentation of pictorial and narrative moments. Although this overlap is not precise, it occurs in Plates 3, and 10 through 16. For a paperback, however, the Penguin edition offers high resolution copies of the original plates, and, in fact, has enlarged the scale slightly so that, for example, in the first edition p. 34's Redlaw and the Phantom is 12 cm high by 7.6 m wide on a page 16.5 cm high by 9.1 cm wide, on page 265 (unnumbered) of Penguin the same illustration is 13.1 cm high by 8.2 cm wide on a page 18 cm high by 11 cm wide. Eleven of the Penguin pages with illustrations are unnumbered, and ten do not have a running head. In terms of clarity, however, the Penguin edition's running heads are an improvement, naming the chapter on the odd-numbered pages, whereas the 1848 edition gives "The Haunted Man" on the even-numbered pages and "And The Ghost's Bargain." the odd-numbered pages in block capitals.

Left: The "Illustrations" for The Cricket on The Hearth in the December 1845 Bradbury and Evans edition. Right: The "Illustrations" for The Battle of Life in the December 1846 Bradbury and Evans edition. The former involved five illustrators and six engravers, the latter four illustrators and and four engravers. All five Christmas Books feature the drawings of John Leech and four showcase the engraving skills of the Dalziel brothers, Edward and George.

Related Material

Illustrations for The Haunted Man (1848-1912)


Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man; or, The Ghost's Bargain. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. Engraved by Martin & Corbould, T. Williams, Smith & Chellnam, and Dalziel. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.

_____. The Haunted Man. Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books. Ed. Eleanor Farjeon. With Sixty-five Illustrations by Landseer, Maclise, Leech, Tenniel, Stanfield, &c. (1848). The Oxford Illustrated Dickens. Oxford, New York, Toronto, Melbourne: Oxford U. P., 1954, rpt. 1987. 313-399.

_____. The Haunted Man. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. (1848). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978. II, 235-362, 365-366.

Glancy, Ruth. "Dickens at Work on The Haunted Man." Dickens Studies Annual 15 (1986): 65-85.

Guida, Fred. "A Christmas Carol" and Its Adaptations: Dickens's Story on Screen and Television. London & Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.

Patten, Robert. Charles Dickens and His Publishers. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 10, "Bargain Haunters." Dickens, Death, and Christmas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023. 234-275. [Review]

Solberg, Sarah. "'Text Dropped into the Wooidcuts': Dickens's Christmas Books." Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 103-118.

Created 29 December 2004

Last modified 3 June 2024