Hard Times was originally published in Household Words, beginning with the issue of April 1 and concluding August 12, 1854, and consequently the text was not illustrated as in the case of the previous novels. It came out the same year in green cloth, published by Bradbury & Evans [Dickens's publishers since his break with Chapman & Hall in 1844 over the profits for A Christmas Carol], without plates. The first cheap edition, which appeared in 1865, had a frontispiece by A. Boyd Houghton. [Hammerton 441]

Other artists after Dickens's death would attempt to provide satisfactory illustrations for one of the few Dickens novels never attempted by his classic illustrators (Hablot Knight Browne, John Leech, and George Cruikshank), notably Charles S. Reinhart for the American and Harry French for the British Household Edition (both in the 1870s). However, the only artist to work on plates for the novel during Dickens's lifetime was the celebrated painter and magazine-illustrator Fred Walker, who began his career as an illustrator at Once a Week alongside the legendary George Du Maurier in 1860. For the 1868 Library Edition of Dickens's works, in collaboration with engraver Maurice Greiffenhagen, Frederick Walker, R. W. S. and A. R. A. (1840-1875), contributed four drawings to accompany Reprinted Pieces and a further four to accompany Hard Times (165 pages, single-columned)-- all signed with the initials "F. W.":

  1. Mr. Harthouse Dines at the Bounderbys
  2. Stephen and Rachel in the Sick-Room
  3. Mr. Harthouse and Tom Bounderby [sic] in the Garden
  4. Stephen Blackpool Recovered from the Old Hell Shaft

Although they lack the emblematic detailism and pictorial humour of Phiz' s best work for Dickens, these four plates reveal a careful reading of Dickens' s text and provide an accompaniment that heightens rather than detracts from the characterisations inherent in the letter-press. Although Walker in his programme of illustration emphasizes no one of the novel' s principals since Louisa, Tom, Rachel (spelled more biblically "Rachael" in the letter-press), and Stephen Blackpool each appear twice, he significantly undervalues the importance of Thomas Gradgrind, Sr., and Sissy Jupe, each of whom appears just once, lost in the crowd of twenty in the last plate, "Stephen Blackpool Recovered from the Old Hell Shaft." No character appears more than twice, reflecting the novel' s failure to provide a single informing consciousness. The series of four pictures is balanced in terms of exterior and interior scenes, and in terms of moments from the Rachel/Stephen and Louisa/Harthouse plots. The Blackpool sick-room counterpoints the Bounderby dining-room, and the banker's garden the mouth of the mineshaft, both representing Nature modified by Man for profit and for recreation.

Reference List

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times and Pictures from Italy. One vol. London: Chapman and Hall [1875?].

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book [1910].

Last modified March 12, 2002