Background Information

Illustrations for Barnaby Rudge (13 Feb.—27 Nov. 1841)

Dickens made the expensive decision to have the illustrations dropped into the text, rather than printed on separate pages, so that they would retain the closest possible relationship to his story. This meant that the illustrators had to create their designs for wood instead of steel because wood engravings can be inked and printed simultaneously with the raised typeface, whereas etching plates, with their ink in grooves rather than on the surface, must be sent through a rolling press and printed on individual dampened pages. [Valerie Browne Lester, 77-78]

Comparing the plates that appeared in the 1849 edition of Barnaby Rudge to those in a good modern edition, such as the volume in the New Oxford Illustrated Dickens, gives us an idea of how the Victorian reader might have experienced the plates by Phiz — that is, simultaneously with the letterpress illustrated rather than facing the text. In the first place, whereas the illustrations in the New Oxford edition appear on a page 18.3 x 11.5 centimetres, each of those that Bradbury and Evans published appear on a larger page (25 by 16.5 centimetres). The paper on which the original wood-cuts were printed provides a more important difference than their slightly larger page: in the 1849 edition, the plates appear on the same paper as does the text of the novel, and this arrangement permits printing text on the reverse of each illustration. In the New Oxford edition, the illustrations are free-standing rather than dropped into the text, for the most part facing the passages realised. In contrast, the original bound volume of 1849 has the plates on much heavier stock, although the text bleeds through slightly. In the New Oxford it does not, thus making the plates look somewhat cleaner. Moreover, modern editions have not reproduced the ornamental capital letter vignettes designed by Phiz, and those pictures that once served as head- and tailpieces merely appear on separate pages in the New Oxford. On the whole, the seventy-seven New Oxford Illustrated Dickens plates for Barnaby Rudge are quite clear, but those in the original often seem darker, sharper, and more dramatic.

Originally, when he pitched the novel to publisher Richard Bentley, Dickens had had veteran illustrator George Cruikshank in mind as his sole illustrator. However, when his editorial squabbles with Bentley came to a head, Dickens ceased work on the project, and Cruikshank took the commissions of a number of other authors, so that in January 1841 Dickens, taking up the novel again in earnest, suddenly found himself without an illustrator. Thus, Dickens chose to revert to Phiz, his partner in The Pickwick Papers, who produced (according to Browne Lester) for the roaring tale fifty-nine illustrations, "mainly of characters, Cattermole producing about nineteen, usually of settings" (85). Lester describes Phiz's specialty at this point as the "low" characters such as Hugh the ostler and Sim Tappertit, the locksmith's apprentice, "active moments, and comic rascality, while Cattermole would embark upon loftier, antiquarian, angelic, and architectural subjects" (78).

Dickens concluded the miscellany with an illustration that looks very much like Cattermole's work, although in fact it is by Phiz. The tailpiece for Volume Three concerns the story about Master Humphrey's companion, the Deaf Gentleman, who appears in the final instalment of Master Humphrey's Clock (4 December 1841). The miscellany concludes in a melancholy fashion, with the Deaf Gentleman's finding Master Humphrey dead in his chair; the illustration The Deserted Chamber for "The Deaf Gentleman from his own Apartment" (Vol. III, 426), however, depicts neither the dead editor nor is friend, but only Master Humphrey's hat, cane, slippers, and volume of notes.

The Woodcuts Dropped into the Text

[The following table parallels the titles of the illustrations given by J. A. Hammerton in The Dickens Picture-Book (1910) for the original Phiz illustrations in the Bradbury & Evans 1849 one-volume edition of the novel, which originally appeared without captions in forty-two weekly parts in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February through 27 November 1841.]

Eleven Initial-letter Vignettes designed by Phiz for the Monthly Parts

  1. Ornate capital "I," Ch. 1, p. 229: 13 February 1841
  2. Initial Letter "B," Ch. 6, p. 265: 6 March 1841
  3. Initial letter "I," Ch. 13, vol. 3, p. 1: 3 April 1841
  4. Initial letter "T," Ch. 23, p. 61: 8 May 1841
  5. Initial letter "P," Ch. 31, p. 109: 7 June 1841
  6. Initial letter "O," Ch. 33, p. 121: 12 June 1841
  7. Initial letter "T," Ch. 39, p. 157: 3 July 1841
  8. Initial letter "T," Ch. 49, p. 217: 7 August 1841
  9. Initial letter "B," Ch. 57, p. 265: 4 September 1841
  10. Initial letter "D," Ch. 65, p. 313: 2 October 1841
  11. Initial letter "A," Ch. 75, p. 373: 6 November 1841

Related Resources Including Other Illustrated Editions

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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Cohen, Jane Rabb. "Part Two: Dickens and His Principal Illustrator. 4. Hablot Browne." (Part 1). Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio U. P., 1980. 59-80.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1999.

Dickens, Charles. Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey's Clock. Illustrated by Phiz and George Cattermole. 3 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury and Evans, 1849.

________. Barnaby Rudge. A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty. Illustrated by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1862. 2 vols.

________. Barnaby Rudge and Hard Times. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. IX.

________. Barnaby Rudge — A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874. VII.

_______. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by A. H. Buckland. London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-type Press. 1900.

_______. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Ed. J. A. Hammerton. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. VI.

_______. Barnaby Rudge. Ed. Kathleen Tillotson. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz') and George Cattermole. The New Oxford Illustrated Dickens. London: Oxford University Press. 1954, rpt. 1987.

Edgecombe, Rodney Stenning. "Sources for the Characterization of Miss Miggs in Barnaby Rudge." Dickens Quarterly, 32, 2 (June 2015): 129-38.

Hammerton, J. A. "Ch. XIV. Barnaby Rudge." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition, illustrated by Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. 213-55.

Kitton, Frederic George. "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne), a Memoir, Including a Selection From His Correspondence and Notes on His Principal Works. London, George Redway, 1882.

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

Steig, Michael. Chapter 3. "From Caricature to Progress: Master Humphrey's Clock to Martin Chuzzlewit." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U. P., 1978. 53-85.

Stevens, Joan. "'Woodcuts Dropped into the Text': The Illustrations in The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge." Studies in Bibliography. 20 (1967): 113-34.

Vann, J. Don. "Charles Dickens. Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February-27 November 1841." New York: MLA, 1985. 65-66.

Created 2 August 2015

Last modified 2 January 2021 2020