Christmas Book cover Christmas Book cover

Covers for volumes 3 and 5 of Dickens's "Christmas Books" designed by Luigi Rossi and Charles Green, R. I. who incorporated Bubbles, a painting by John Everett Millais, R. A.

The Covers of the Pears Edition Compared to Earlier Ones

When Dickens first published the Christmas Books, the original series all had the scarlet boards with gilt lettering used on A Christmas Carol (December 1843). The cover of The Cricket on the Hearth (1845) had a gilt fireplace embossed, and a gilt image of a Christmas wreath appeared on the cover of The Haunted Man (1848). Three decades later the distinct American and English versions of the Household Edition still used the same ornate green boards, gilt lettering, and pictures of well-known Dickens characters. Viewed in this context, the "Pears Centenary Edition of Charles Dickens' Christmas Books" seems modest, except for Millais’s coloured picture of the child featured on the wrappers of Pears soap bars. Each volume has different-coloured boards, so that, for example, the L. Rossi-illustrated Cricket on the Hearth has light green boards, but the Green-illustrated Haunted Man has dark green ones.

The Pears Edition’s Illustrators and Illustrations

Each contains about thirty illustrations from original drawings by Charles Green, R. I. — Clement Shorter (1912) and The Cricket on the Hearth. With twenty-two illustrations from original drawings by L. Rossi.

Charles Green, one of the original Household Edition illustrators for Chapman and Hall, received a commission to create new wood-engravings for The Old Curiosity Shop (1876). A "New Man of the Sixties," Green had undoubtedly studied the Fred Barnard illustrations for The Christmas Books, but he probably did not see the work of American illustrator Edwin Austin Abbey for the Harper & Bros. (New York) edition. Although all volumes have illustrations in the form of both small-scale and larger-scale lithographs, the number per volume differs slightly. For example, whereas the Rossi volume has just twenty-two illustrations listed plus the title-page vignette and three other, small-scale tailpieces, the Green-illustrated Carol has twenty-seven, and The Chimes has thirty.

Green had already prepared the programs of illustration for the other Christmas Books some years before: Volume 1, A Christmas Carol (1892: twenty-seven lithographs); Volume 4, The Battle of Life (1893: twenty-nine lithographs); Volume 2, The Chimes (1894: thirty lithographs); and Volume 5, The Haunted Man (1895: thirty lithographs). Presumably, as this was to be a "Centenary" project, A & F Pears was in no rush to get these books into print. However, Green's death in 1898 necessitated the hiring of another illustrator.

Scanned images by Philip V. Allingham. Text by Allingham and George P. Landow [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the images and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. The Battle of Life. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

_____. The Chimes. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

_____. The Cricket on the Hearthl. Illustrated by Luigi Rossi. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

_____. A Christmas Carol. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

_____. The Haunted Man. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

Created 8 April 2015

Last modified 28 May 2020