He was a feeble, spare, and slow in his pinches as in everything else. (See page 48.) — Book I, chap. 9, "Little Mother." Sixties' illustrator James Mahoney's eighth illustration for Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Household Edition, 1873. The wood-engraving by the Dalziels occurs on p. 41 in the Chapman & Hall volume, with the running head Frederick Dorrit. 9.9 cm high x 13.5 cm wide, framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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.]

Passage Illustrated

Arthur wondered what he could possibly want with the clarionet case. He did not want it at all. He discovered, in due time, that it was not the little paper of snuff (which was also on the chimney-piece), put it back again, took down the snuff instead, and solaced himself with a pinch. He was as feeble, spare, and slow in his pinches as in everything else, but a certain little trickling of enjoyment of them played in the poor worn nerves about the corners of his eyes and mouth.

"Amy, Mr. Clennam. What do you think of her?"

"I am much impressed, Mr. Dorrit, by all that I have seen of her and thought of her." — Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 9, "Little Mother," p. 48.


The accompanying caption is somewhat different in the Harper and Bros. New York edition: In the back garret — a sickly room, with a turned up bedstead in it, so hastily and recently turned up that the blankets were boiling over, as it were, and keeping the lid open — a half finished breakfast of coffee and toast, for two persons, was jumbled down anyhow on a rickety table — Book 1, chap. ix. The Mahoney illustration departs from Phiz's original illustration for the chapter, in which Arthur Clennam and Amy encounter Maggy in the borough High Street near the prison after leaving William Dorrit's apartment, Little Mother in the third monthly part (February 1856).

Arthur Clennam interrogates the clarionet-player, Frederick Dorrit, in his rooms outside the Marshalsea about his niece, Amy, and her connection to Mrs. Clennam. Frederick explains that Amy serves an essential role for the Dorrits, the reasonable, caring parent — "We should all have been lost without Amy. She is a very good girl, Amy. She does her duty" (48). The dinginess of the room suggests the slovenly lifestyle of the broken-down musician, and, indeed, Little Dorrit's origins. What is surprising, then, is that Amy herself is in no way tainted by the tawdry existence of the Dorrits.

Frederick Dorrit from Other Early Editions, 1856-1910

Left: An early American visual interpretation of Amy's uncle, playing the clarionet in the orchestra pit, Frederick Dorrit. Right: Harry Furniss's illustration of Little Dorrit's uncle and father in the College yard of the Marshalsea, The Dorrit Brothers in the Marshalsea. (1910) [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Phiz's original May 1856 engraving of the Frederick, walking around the College yard with William, "Father of the Marshalsea," The Brothers. (Part 10: Book One, Chapter 19) [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Authentic Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1901 [rpt. of the 1868 volume, based on the 30 May 1857 volume].

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. 14 vols.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by James Mahoney. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873. Vol. 5.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 12.

Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 19: Little Dorrit." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. Vol. 17. Pp. 398-427.

Harvey, John. Victorian Novelists and their Illustrators. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970.

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.

Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Matz, B. W., and Kate Perugini. Character Sketches from Dickens. Illustrated by Harrold Copping. London: Raphael Tuck, 1924.

Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U.P., 1978.

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1985.

Last modified 24 May 2016