The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery: A New Online Collection Presents All of the Original Illustrations from Charles Dickens’ Novels

Kenneth Palmer

At the peak of his fame, Charles Dickens could have commanded any illustrator he appreciated for his novels. But at the beginning of his literary profession, it was he who was billed with accompanying the artist, not the other way all around. His 1st serialized novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, superior known as The Pickwick Papers, began as a series of comical “cockney sporting plates” by  Robert Seymour. Honest sufficient to acknowledge his ignorance of the cockney sporting existence but shrewd enough to know an chance when he noticed one particular, the youthful Dickens acknowledged the publisher’s request for stories meant to elaborate on the illustrations or photos.

Even then, Dickens possessed irrepressible talent as a well known storyteller, and it was his creating — which evidenced scant fascination in adherence to the present artwork — that made The Pickwick Papers into a wonderful achievements, a mass-cultural phenomenon comparable to a strike sitcom avant la lettre.

187 several years later there stays a whiff of scandal close to this chapter of literary record, Seymour getting fully commited suicide early in the serialization approach the working day following an argument with Dickens. Ultimately the creator identified a lasting replacement for Seymour in Hablot Knight Browne, or Phiz, who would go on to provide the artwork for most of his novels.

You can see all of Phiz’s get the job done for Dickens at the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery, a undertaking of Michael John Goodman, whom we have beforehand showcased in this article on Open Lifestyle for his Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive (and his collection of AI-produced Shakespeare artwork). “The entire world of Dickens illustration is beset with poor reproductions of the supply substance, so for this project I have searched out what I contemplate to be some of the best editions that characteristic the initial illustrations printed to a good high-quality,” Goodman writes on his project’s About page. These are inclined to day from the early twentieth century and arrive with “colored frontispieces (which the first novels did not have).”

A single such frontispiece appears at the top of this submit, depicting the to start with look of The Pickwick Papers‘ most beloved character, the cockney valet Samuel Weller (who overtook the title character in popularity in much the exact same manner as Dickens’ writing overtook the illustrations). The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery is made up of many plates from that guide, as properly as from all the relaxation: Oliver Twist (a collaboration with not Phiz but George Cruikshank), A Xmas Carol (with John Leech), Bleak House (its grim environment heightened by Phiz’s “dark plates”), even the under no circumstances-concluded The Thriller of Edwin Drood. Today’s readers are likely to dismiss these illustrations, on the other hand nicely-rendered, as extraneous to the textual content. But we must bear in head that most ended up viewed and accredited by Dickens himself, who realized what he needed — and even extra so, what his readers needed.

Enter the The Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery right here.

Connected material:

An Animated Introduction to Charles Dickens’ Lifetime & Literary Operates

An Oscar-Successful Animation of Charles Dickens’ Traditional Tale, A Xmas Carol (1971)

The Code of Charles Dickens’ Shorthand Has Been Cracked by Computer Programmers, Solving a 160-Year-Outdated Mystery

Behold Illustrations of Every single Shakespeare Play Established by Artificial Intelligence

3,000 Illustrations of Shakespeare’s Total Performs from Victorian England, Neatly Offered in a New Electronic Archive

A Free of charge Shakespeare Coloring Reserve: Even though Away the Several hours Coloring in Illustrations of 35 Typical Performs

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on metropolitan areas, language, and lifestyle. His tasks include the Substack publication Books on Towns, the book The Stateless City: a Walk by 21st-Century Los Angeles and the movie series The Town in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.

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