Gradually I slipped from the chair, and lay on the floor by F. A. Fraser (1844-1896). 9.5 cm high by 13.7 cm wide (3 ¾ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed (half-page, horizontally mounted), on page 152. Twenty-first illustration; for Chapter Thirty-nine in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, which appeared as Volume 11 in the Household Edition in 1876. Running head: "Provis" (153). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Pip Overwhelmed by the Truth of his Expectations

Left: Edward Ardizzone's coloured lithograph of Magwitch's arrival: "Pip has a visitor by night (1939).

Crowding up with these reflections came the reflection that I had seen him with my childish eyes to be a desperately violent man; that I had heard that other convict reiterate that he had tried to murder him; that I had seen him down in the ditch tearing and fighting like a wild beast. Out of such remembrances I brought into the light of the fire a half-formed terror that it might not be safe to be shut up there with him in the dead of the wild solitary night. This dilated until it filled the room, and impelled me to take a candle and go in and look at my dreadful burden.

He had rolled a handkerchief round his head, and his face was set and lowering in his sleep. But he was asleep, and quietly too, though he had a pistol lying on the pillow. Assured of this, I softly removed the key to the outside of his door, and turned it on him before I again sat down by the fire. Gradually I slipped from the chair and lay on the floor. When I awoke without having parted in my sleep with the perception of my wretchedness, the clocks of the Eastward churches were striking five, the candles were wasted out, the fire was dead, and the wind and rain intensified the thick black darkness.



Although the illustration has been positioned on the second page of Chapter Forty, it clearly references through its caption the collapse of Pip under the weight of his "dreadful burden" (151), having to care for the escaped convict who traumatized him as a child in the village churchyard. The obligation to look after the transportee whose Australian fortune has bankrolled his becoming a gentleman has literally exhausted Pip. The only details that Fraser includes do not detract our attention from the prostrate figure: the candle on the table, the overstuffed easy-chair, and the still-vacant bed. The strain of having to love and care for the frightening figure whom he has abhorred all these years has overwhelmed Pip, who collapses and sleeps for hours on the carpet purchased with a felon's fortune.

Other Editions' Versions of the Return of Magwitch (1861-1909)

Left: A. A. Dixon's 1909 lithograph of Magwitch's emotional reunion with Pip: Again he took both my hands and put them to his lips, in the Collins Clear-type Edition. Centre: The original American serial illustration of the shock Pip experiences as Magwitch's reveals himself as Pip's benefactor: "Let me sit listening as I would, with dread," etc. in Harper's Weekly 5 (15 June 1861). Right: Frederick W. Pailthorpe in the Robson & Kerslake edition creates an air of mystery by introducing Magwitch outside Pip's apartments, in the darkness: On the Stairs (1885).

Left: Charles Green's "I made him some hot rum-and-water" (1897). Center: F. O. C. Darley's The Convict's Return (1861). Right: Harry Furniss's "Provis" (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.

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

Created 19 March 2004

Last modified 10 September 2021