Illuminated I

n anticipation of Dickens's long-awaited 1867-68 reading tour, which had been postponed by the American Civil War, the Boston publisher James T. Fields had commissioned from Eytinge ninety-six designs for wood-engravings to grace the pages of the exhaustive Diamond Edition of Dickens's works, each volume being of compact dimensions with very fine but sharp type. This volume, like others in the series, probably coincides with the start of that momentous visit to American shores as it contains a number of the Christmas Stories published in the "Extra Christmas Numbers" of All the Year Round, but not the 1867 novella No Thoroughfare by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, which was published in England on 3 December 1867, as well as in the December issue of Ticknor and Fields' Every Saturday weekly magazine. Eytinge's volume has the bibliographical distinction of being the first illustrated anthology to contain both the Uncommercial Traveller essays and most of the Christmas Stories, including "Somebody's Luggage" (1862), "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings" (1863), "Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy" (1864), "Dr. Marigold" (1865), "Two Ghost Stories," "The Boy at Mugby (1866), ""The Tale of Richard Doubledick" from The Seven Poor Travellers (1854), "The Holly Tree Inn" (1855), and "Going into Society" (1858). The somewhat random order of the volume suggests that the editors, having included the most recent Christmas stories, dipped into the offerings from Household Words to round out the selections as "Additional" Christmas Stories, with the implication that the chief "stories" for yuletide are The Christmas Books.

On the verso of the title-page of each volume in the series of sixteen is the statement that James T. Fields, the author's friend and confidant, so valued since it authorized his firm as Dickens's sole representatives in the United States:

Gad's Hill Place, Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Second April, 1867.
By a special arrangement made with me and my English Publishers (partners with me in the copyright of my works), MESSRS. TICKNOR AND FIELDS, of Boston, have become the only authorized representatives in America of the whole series of my books.
CHARLES DICKENS.

William Winter in his autobiography recalls that Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s illustrations for Dickens's works "gained the emphatic approval of the novelist" (318), although of course the pair did not actively collaborate on this series, as did Hablot Knight Browne and Dickens had done for so many of the full-scale novels in twenty monthly parts, concluding with the illustrations for the Chapman and Hall A Tale of Two Cities in 1859. The limited multiple-illustrator narrative-pictorial sequence for the 1868 Library Edition of Christmas Stories unevenly, albeit effectively, realizes some of the best-loved characters from Dickens's seasonal offerings from the 1850s and 1860s. Nevertheless, as one regards this series of twelve individual and small group character studies for Christmas Stories and The Uncommercial Traveller (1868) and appreciates them as exemplars of the new realism of the the sixties' manner of book and magazine illustration, one is tempted to agree with Winter that

The most appropriate pictures that have been made for illustration of the novels of Dickens, — pictures that are truly representative and free from the element of caricature, — are those made by Eytinge. . . . [317-318]

References

Schlicke, Paul, ed. The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999.

Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller and Additional Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Rpt. Illustrated Household Edition. Boston: Lee and Shepard; New York: Charles T. Dillingham, n. d.

Kitton, Frederic George. Dickens and His Illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz," Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Landseer, Palmer, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes. Amsterdam: S. Emmering, 1972. Re-print of the London 1899 edition.

Winter, William. "Charles Dickens" and "Sol Eytinge." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 181-202, 317-319.


Victorian Web Overview Victorian Book Illustration Visual arts Charles Dickens Sol Eytinge

Last modified 3 April 2014