Introduction: Youthful College Sketches Become a Coherent Novel

What started as a series of sketches became a novel, at which point the publisher commissioned Phiz's illustrations for the six "volumes." Only after its initial popularity did M'Glashan propose that he would publish separately in monthly illustrated instalments in the manner of Pickwick, recently published in parts and then in volume form by Chapman and Hall.

He was much concerned over the illustrating of the book, partly because he was afraid that it might appear too much like an imitation of Dickens. He tried to obtain Cruikshank as illustrator, instead of "Phiz," and when the latter was chosen, he wanted to find out which episodes he was going to use as subjects: "If I knew the scenes he selected, I might have benefited by his ideas and rendered them more graphic, as an author corrects his play by seeing a dress rehearsal . . . . Has Phiz any notion of Irish physiognomy? for this is most important . . . ." [Stevenson, 64]

Background Information

Geographical and Socio-political Associations: Victorian Ireland

Illustrations for The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer (1839, rpt. 1872)

Note Regarding Chapter Numbering

The 1839 edition, probably preserving the formatting of the monthly serialisation, has two chapters numbered identically: XIX, "Detachment Duty — An Assize Town" (page 142) and XIX, "The Assize Town" (page 149). Since subsequent editions have corrected this duplication, making the second Chapter XIX into Chapter XX, the numbering of subsequent chapters in later editions has been affected. Although neither of these chapters had an illustration in the 1839 edition, Chapter XX, "A Day in Dublin," afterwards contained Mr. Burke's Enthusiasm for the Duke of Wellington. In consequence of this error, the 1839 edition contains only fifty-five chapters, whereas subsequent editions contain fifty-six.

Scanned images and texts 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.]


Buchanan-Brown, John. Phiz! Illustrator of Dickens' World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

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

Lever, Charles. The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer. Illustrated by Phiz [Hablot Knight Browne]. Dublin: William Curry, Jun. London: W. S. Orr, 1839.

Steig, Michael. Chapter Two: "The Beginnings of 'Phiz': Pickwick, Nickleby, and the Emergence from Caricature." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington: Indiana U. P., 1978. Pp. 24-85.

Steig, Michael. Chapter Seven: "Phiz the Illustrator: An Overview and a Summing Up." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington: Indiana U. P., 1978. Pp. 299-316.

Stevenson, Lionel. Chapter V, "Renegade from Physic, 1839-1841." Dr. Quicksilver: The Life of Charles Lever. London: Chapman and Hall, 1939. Pp. 73-93.

_______. "The Domestic Scene." The English Novel: A Panorama. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin and Riverside, 1960.

Created 11 April 2023