"This chap . . . . murdered his master" by F. A. Fraser (1844-1896). 9.5 cm high by 13.8 cm wide (3 ⅝ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed (half-page, horizontally mounted), p. 92, Chapter Twenty-four, in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, which appeared as Volume 11 in the British Household Edition (1876). Running head: "Wemmick's Personal Friends" (93). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Mr. Jaggers' Little Shop of Horrors

When we went downstairs again, Wemmick led me into my guardian’s room, and said, “This you’ve seen already.”

“Pray,” said I, as the two odious casts with the twitchy leer upon them caught my sight again, “whose likenesses are those?”

“These?” said Wemmick, getting upon a chair, and blowing the dust off the horrible heads before bringing them down. “These are two celebrated ones. Famous clients of ours that got us a world of credit. This chap (why you must have come down in the night and been peeping into the inkstand, to get this blot upon your eyebrow, you old rascal!) murdered his master, and, considering that he wasn’t brought up to evidence, didn’t plan it badly.”

“Is it like him?” I asked, recoiling from the brute, as Wemmick spat upon his eyebrow and gave it a rub with his sleeve.

“Like him? It’s himself, you know. The cast was made in Newgate, directly after he was taken down. You had a particular fancy for me, hadn’t you, Old Artful?” said Wemmick. He then explained this affectionate apostrophe, by touching his brooch representing the lady and the weeping willow at the tomb with the urn upon it, and saying, “Had it made for me, express!” [Chapter XXIV, 92-93]

Commentary: Wemmick shows Pip about the Little Britain Offices

Sol Eytinge, Junior's 1867 portrait of the criminal attorney's deputy: Wemmick and the Aged P, in the Diamond Edition.

Once Jaggers has announced that Pip has come into "Great Expectations," and Pip has prepared for his coach ride to London by purchasing a made-to-measure suit at Trabbs' shop in the village, he bids farewell to Joe and Biddy at the forge. His introduction to the metropolis through the characters of Jaggers, his clerk, Wemmick, and several suspicious-looking street people who are clients initiates Pip and the reader into the second phase of the novel.

Although Dickens has narrated the scene from the perspective of the protagonist in the first-person, Fraser again has organized it with an embedded viewer: in this instance, Pip himself. We can be forgiven for not instantly recognizing the smartly dressed young Londoner at Jaggers' side as the former blacksmith's apprentice from the Marshes. This slight, smooth-faced young Regency buck in fashionable, light-coloured stirrup pants (all the fashion in Dickens's youth) and cutaway morning coat looks away, as if distracted by the sights, sounds, and perhaps even the smells of the working-class borough known as Little Britain. Whereas a respectable porter walks out of frame to the left, to the right Fraser has placed two women in shawls, and a single scruffy street character, his hands open in appeal. What connects this image of Pip with the one in the previous illustration, set in Trabb's shop, is the cane, which now resembles a riding-crop. As in the text, perhaps as a gesture of protection and reassurance, Jaggers places one hand upon Pip's shoulder as he uses his left hand to point sharply at the women speaking to him. Evidently the precise moment realised is when Jaggers turns on the two women in shawls, and addresses Amelia. She is crying about her husband, Bill, whose case Jaggers has already accepted.

Fraser indicates little about the scene's physical setting, St. Bartholomew's Close in the formerly fashionable Little Britain. The narrow streets and dilapidated houses had by Dickens's time become synonymous with the more disreputable parts of the metropolis, characterized by Smithfield Lane and Bull-in-Mouth street, not far from Butcher Lane and Newgate Prison. Harry Furniss in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) appears to have based a parallel lithograph of Pip and Jaggers in the street directly on this Fraser wood-engraving.

Comparable Images from Other Editions

Left: Pip in Mr. Jaggers's Office (1898), in the Gadshill Edition by Charles Green. Centre: In the first American serialisation, periodical illustrator John McLenan realizes Wemmick's delight in the death-masks of his (former) criminal clients: "This chap murdered his master" (9 March 1861). Right: Harry Furniss's realisation of the same scene: Mr. Jaggers and His Clients (1910).

Related Material

Other Artists’ Illustrations for Dickens's Great Expectations

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


Allingham, Philip V. "The Illustrations for Great Expectations in Harper's Weekly (1860-61) and in the Illustrated Library Edition (1862) — 'Reading by the Light of Illustration'." Dickens Studies Annual, Vol. 40 (2009): 113-169.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Illustrated by John McLenan. [The First American Edition]. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization, Vols. IV: 740 through V: 495 (24 November 1860-3 August 1861).

______. ("Boz."). Great Expectations. With thirty-four illustrations from original designs by John McLenan. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson (by agreement with Harper & Bros., New York), 1861.

______. Great Expectations. Illustrated by Marcus Stone. The Illustrated Library Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1862. Rpt. in The Nonesuch Dickens, Great Expectations and Hard Times. London: Nonesuch, 1937; Overlook and Worth Presses, 2005.

______. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

______. Great Expectations. Volume 6 of the Household Edition. Illustrated by F. A. Fraser. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876.

______. Great Expectations. The Gadshill Edition. Illustrated by Charles Green. London: Chapman and Hall, 1898.

______. Great Expectations. The Grande Luxe Edition, ed. Richard Garnett. Illustrated by Clayton J. Clarke ('Kyd'). London: Merrill and Baker, 1900.

______. Great Expectations. "With 28 Original Plates by Harry Furniss." Volume 14 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.

Created 19 March 2004

Last modified 28 August 2021