"'It's of no use,' said Biddy" by F. A. Fraser (1844-1896). 9.7 cm high by 13.6 cm wide (3 ¾ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed (half-page, horizontally mounted), on page 133. Eighteenth illustration; for Chapter Thirty-five in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, which appeared as Volume 11 in the Household Edition in 1876. Running head: "I Take Biddy to Task" (131). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Pip encounters Biddy in the garden outside Joe's forge

Biddy cried; the darkening garden, and the lane, and the stars that were coming out, were blurred in my own sight.

“Nothing was ever discovered, Biddy?”


“Do you know what is become of Orlick?”

“I should think from the colour of his clothes that he is working in the quarries.”

“Of course you have seen him then? — Why are you looking at that dark tree in the lane?”

“I saw him there, on the night she died.”

“That was not the last time either, Biddy?”

“No; I have seen him there, since we have been walking here. — It is of no use,” said Biddy, laying her hand upon my arm, as I was for running out, “you know I would not deceive you; he was not there a minute, and he is gone.”

It revived my utmost indignation to find that she was still pursued by this fellow, and I felt inveterate against him. I told her so, and told her that I would spend any money or take any pains to drive him out of that country. By degrees she led me into more temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never complained of anything, — she didn’t say, of me; she had no need; I knew what she meant,—but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart. [Chapter XXXV, 132]


Above: John McLenan's treatment of Pip's coming home for Mrs. Joe's funeral: "Dear Joe, how are you?" (20 April 1861).

The juxtaposition between this and the sixteenth illustration ("Oh, you must take the purse!"), when Pip was escorting a grown-up Estella to her finishing-school in Richmond, is telling. Here Fraser contrasts the emphasis on the appropriate upper-middle-class facade and Pip's supposed tutelage as a gentleman, as arranged by Miss Havisham, with the true, honest, unpretentious Biddy. She determines to become a dedicated teacher of the village children and assist Mrs. Hubble in looking after Joe, now suddenly a widower after the death of his incapacitated wife. The illustration also underscores the mystery surrounding Mrs. Joe's assault, as both Biddy and Pip strongly suspect Orlick of being the culprit.

We have not seen Biddy since I confide in Biddy (Then she softly patted my shoulder in a soothing way) in Chapter XVII. There she served as Pip's comforter, whereas here she upbraids him for neglecting Joe. This is our first impression of the grown-up Biddy, who will become a suitable wife for the kindly widower. She wears a linen cap and enormous linen apron as signs of her domestic nature, but otherwise Fraser fails to distinguish her, leaving establishing this newly assertive character to Dickens's text. Through his rigid posture Fraser suggests Pip's anger at thinking Orlick may have been responsible for the assault on his sister.

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.

______. Great Expectations. Illustrated by Henry Matthew Brock. London: Hodder and Stoughton, n. d. [1916].

Created 19 March 2004

Last modified 4 September 2021