"I stood face to face with Mr. Peggotty!" — fortieth illustration by Fred Barnard for the 1872 Household Edition of David Copperfield (Chapter XL, "The Wanderer," 281). 9.4 x 13.7 mm (3 ¾ by 5 ⅜ inches) framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it. Mouse over text for links.]

Passage Illustrated: A Coincidental Meeting

Fred Barnard's depiction of Dan'l Peggotty's pursuing his niece and Steerforth across the Continent: Peggotty Searching for Little Emily (1912).

My shortest way home, — and I naturally took the shortest way on such a night — was through St. Martin’s Lane. Now, the church which gives its name to the lane, stood in a less free situation at that time; there being no open space before it, and the lane winding down to the Strand. As I passed the steps of the portico, I encountered, at the corner, a woman’s face. It looked in mine, passed across the narrow lane, and disappeared. I knew it. I had seen it somewhere. But I could not remember where. I had some association with it, that struck upon my heart directly; but I was thinking of anything else when it came upon me, and was confused.

On the steps of the church, there was the stooping figure of a man, who had put down some burden on the smooth snow, to adjust it; my seeing the face, and my seeing him, were simultaneous. I don’t think I had stopped in my surprise; but, in any case, as I went on, he rose, turned, and came down towards me. I stood face to face with Mr. Peggotty!

Then I remembered the woman. It was Martha, to whom Emily had given the money that night in the kitchen. Martha Endell — side by side with whom, he would not have seen his dear niece, Ham had told me, for all the treasures wrecked in the sea. [Chapter XL, "The Wanderer," 290]

Commentary: Not the Interview but the Chance Meeting is Barnard's Subject

Fred Barnard depicts David Copperfield as slight with his face seen in profile and so cross-hatched as to be unrecognizable, but he gives us a stalwart Mr. Peggotty. Whereas the stiff wind that sweeps through the illustration from left to right propels David forward at an angle, Dan'l Peggotty remains unaffected as he extends his right hand to grasp David's. In the background, the blinding snow renders indistinct the steps of the church portico in the Strand, and the gas-lamp lacks any power to illuminate the scene, but the Wanderer presses on, as fate has assigned him a duty he will not abandon, no matter what the weather or hardships he must endure. Thus, without the benefit of the kind of background detail and costume elements that Dickens's original illustrator, Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne) loved to elaborate, Barnard has communicated the patriarchal Dan'l Peggotty's essential steadfastness in his quest to rescue his niece.

David encounters Mr. Peggotty in the snow at The Golden Cross (1872 & 1910 Editions)

Left: Kyd's elegant watercolour of Mr. Peggotty, a possible study for the Player's Cigarette Card series (1889-1910). Centre: Hablot Knight Browne's (Phiz's) original serial illustration for the May 1850 number emphasizes the confidential discussion between David and Mr. Peggotty, as overheard by Martha Endell at The Golden Key public house: The Wanderer. Right: Harry Furnss's atmospheric treatment of the meeting focuses far more on the snow-chilled figure of the "Lost Woman" in Martha, the Wanderer (1910).

Relevant Illustrated Editions of this Novel (1863 through 1910)

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 23 August 2016

Last modified 15 August 2022