Under the lilac tree. — Thirty-fourth illustration by Fred Barnard for the 1872 Household Edition of David Copperfield (Chapter XXXIII, "Blissful," facing p. 233). Half-page, 8.4 cm by 13.8 cm (3 ¾ by 5 ½ inches), vignetted. Headline: "A Blessed Event" (239). [Click on the image to enlarge it. Mouse over text for links.]

Passage Illustrated: Another Scene with Dora in the Garden

W. H. C. Groome's version of the scene in which David first encounters Dora in her father's garden: I turned a corner, and met her (1907).

I suppose that when I saw Dora in the garden and pretended not to see her, and rode past the house pretending to be anxiously looking for it, I committed two small fooleries which other young gentlemen in my circumstances might have committed — because they came so very natural to me. But oh! when I DID find the house, and did dismount at the garden-gate, and drag those stony-hearted boots across the lawn to Dora sitting on a garden-seat under a lilac tree, what a spectacle she was, upon that beautiful morning, among the butterflies, in a white chip bonnet and a dress of celestial blue! There was a young lady with her — comparatively stricken in years — almost twenty, I should say. Her name was Miss Mills. And Dora called her Julia. She was the bosom friend of Dora. Happy Miss Mills!

Jip was there, and Jip would bark at me again. When I presented my bouquet, he gnashed his teeth with jealousy. Well he might. If he had the least idea how I adored his mistress, well he might!

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Copperfield! What dear flowers!" said Dora. [Chapter XXXIII, "Blissful," 239]


Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s full-page study of the contrasting figures of the beautiful but vacuous Dora and her perceptive friend, Miss Miss. (1867).

Barnard sets David's courtship of Dora Spenlow in Mr. Spenlow's garden on his daughter's birthday. "Butterflies" (creature of short-lived but beautiful existence) and the cloyingly sweet blossoms of the lilac become in this illustration analogues for the charming but vacuous Dora herself. Barnard renders Mr. Spenlow's young guest, proctor-candidate David Copperfield, as far more earnest than the vain, self-centred, exquisitely dressed Dora, who has just received the bouquet that David purchased for her that morning at Covent Garden. Her older, far more knowing friend, Miss Julia Mills, acting as chaperon, discretely keeps to one side, but Dora seems much more interested in her flowers and dog Jip than in the well-dressed young man with the riding crop and penetrating gaze. To focus the viewer's attention on the doll-like Dora, Barnard has made her the central pyramid in his composition, shading the barely seen figure of Julia Mills and crowding David into the left register. Already David has received his usual rebuff from the jealous pet, and, thanking David, Dora has laid the floral tribute to her beauty "against her little dimpled chin," just as in Dickens's text.

Related Material

Scanned image and text 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.]


Dickens, Charles. The Personal History of David Copperfield, illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Centenary Edition. London & New York: Chapman & Hall, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911 [rpt. from 1850]. 2 vols.

_______. David Copperfield, with 61 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872. Vol. 3.

_______. David Copperfield. Illustrated by W. H. C. Groome. London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-type Press, 1907. No. 1.

The copy of the Household Edition from which this picture was scanned was the gift of George Gorniak, Editor of The Dickens Magazine, whose subject for the fifth series, beginning in January 2010, is this novel.

Created 20 August 2016

Last modified 9 August 2022