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Dickens at 200: 1812–2012

An exhibition in Special Collections

curated by
Jaime Margalotti

Dickens’s Illustrators: Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz)

Hablot Knight Browne (1815–1882) is the illustrator most closely associated with Charles Dickens.  The pair collaborated for 23 years, with Browne illustrating ten novels and several other works for Dickens.  After illustrating the short tract, Sunday Under Three Heads, Dickens selected Browne over William Makepeace Thackeray to complete the illustrations for The Pickwick Papers.   It was during this project that Browne took on the pseudonym “Phiz,” to better coordinate with Dickens’s nickname, “Boz.”  Dickens worked closely with all of his illustrators, providing an overall summary at the outset and more detailed descriptions of the upcoming chapters so that the illustrations could compliment the plot and characterizations.  Browne’s illustrations for A Tale of Two Cities were his last for Dickens.  The author was unhappy with Browne’s work and chose to serialize his next novel, Great Expectations, in his own magazine, All the Year Round, and without any illustrations.

Charles Dickens.

Sunday Under Three Heads. By Timothy Sparks; a reproduction in exact facsimile of the excessively rare original. London: J. W. Jarvis & son, 1884.

Originally published in 1836, this short work rails against a proposed Sabbath Bill which would ban all forms of work on Sundays. Under the pseudonym of Henry Sparks, Dickens declares: “The idea of making a man truly moral through the ministry of constables, and sincerely religious under the influence of penalties, is worthy of the mind which could form such a mass of monstrous absurdity as this bill is composed of.”

Charles Dickens.

Sketches of Young Gentlemen: Dedicated to the Young Ladies. With six illustrations by “Phiz”. London, Chapman and Hall, 1838.

Published anonymously, this short work provides humorous descriptions and caricatures of typical types of young men. It followed the similarly arranged Sketches of Young Ladies and preceded Sketches of Young Couples.

Charles Dickens.

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. With illustrations by Phiz. London: Chapman and Hall, 1839.

Before beginning this novel, Dickens and Browne travelled to Yorkshire together undercover to research the infamously harsh treatment that boys received in the region’s boarding schools. These observations formed the basis of Nicholas Nickleby’s experiences as an assistant master in Wackford Squeers’ Dotheboys Hall.

Charles Dickens.

Dombey and Son. With illustrations by H.K. Browne. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.

Like many of Dickens’s work, Dombey and Son was issued as a monthly serial. Although illustrated before the beginning of the run, the cover would have illustrations from all parts of the work.

Charles James Lever.

The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer. With numerous illustrations by Phiz. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1840.

Even during Browne’s years as Dickens’s primary artist, the prolific engraver worked with other writers. Browne illustrated numerous Charles James books, as well as works by William Harrison Ainsworth, Frank Smedley, and others.

Charles Butler Greatrex

Dame Perkins and Her Grey Mare, or, The Mount for Market. By Lindon Meadows; with coloured illustrations by Phiz. Philadelphia: Lippincott and Co., 1869.

Frederic George Kitton

Letter to Gordon Browne from Frederic George Kitton, March 3, 1896. Letters to Gordon Browne.

Inquiry from author and artist F.G. Kitton to Gordon Browne, illustrator and son of Hablot Knight Browne, concerning a writing project on which he is working (likely Dickens and His Illustrators, 1899).

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