In anticipation of Dickens's long-awaited 1867-68 reading tour, which the American Civil War (1861-65) had postponed, the Boston publisher James T. Fields had commissioned from Eytinge ninety-six designs for full-page wood-engravings to grace the pages of the exhaustive, sixteen-volume Diamond Edition of Dickens's works, each volume being of compact dimensions with very fine (but very sharp, and therefore highly readable) type.

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 "transAtlanticly" (so to speak) on this series, as did Hablot Knight Browne and Dickens for the 1849-50 forty serial illustrations for Chapman and Hall. Nevertheless, as one regards this series of sixteen individual and group character studies for The Personal History of David Copperfield and appreciates them as exemplars of the New Realism of 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]

Eytinge's illustrations may have even been inspected by Dickens when he arrived in Boston for his second American reading tour (1867-68). Had he done so, he would have noted that, although Eytinge had included studies of all the main characters and had even realized one of the key moments in David's turbulent childhood — David's Bargain — he has no adult study of the protagonist in his views of thirty-nine characters, including very fine individual studies of Little Em'ly, Steerforth, and Martha, and a wonderful group studies of Tommy Traddles and the Micawbers, nowhere does he depict the adult protagonist. Thus, throughout, the adult narrative voice remains an offstage "observer."

  1. Frontispiece, Little Em'ly [David Copperfield, 1867]
  2. Mr. and Mrs. Murdstone and Mrs. Copperfield
  3. Mr. Peggotty, Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge
  4. Peggotty and Barkis
  5. Mr. Micawber and his Family
  6. David's Bargain
  7. Miss Trotwood and Mr. Dick
  8. Dr. and Mrs. Strong and the Old Soldier
  9. Steerforth
  10. Miss Mowcher
  11. Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle
  12. Mr. Wickfield and Agnes
  13. Dora and Miss Mills
  14. Martha
  15. Uriah Heep and his Mother (facing page 425)
  16. Traddles and the Girls (facing page 467)
  17. Title-page for the "Diamond Edition" of The Personal History of David Copperfield (1867).
  18. Cover of the "Diamond Edition" of The Personal History of David Copperfield (1867).

Related Resources


Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: U. Ohio Press, 1980.

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.

_______. The Personal History of David Copperfield. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. Vol. V.

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.

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

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985.

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.

Created 22 August 2014

Last modified 11 July 2022