In conversation with… Ian Hislop

Ian Hislop, satirist, broadcaster, historian, and editor of Private Eye, chats to Roehampton’s Dr Mary L. Shannon about his new radio play ‘Trial by Laughter’ (co-written with Nick Newman) which dramatizes the trial of William Hone for libel in 1817, press freedom, and the importance of satirical images in the nineteenth century.

Click here to access the podcast and to get the full story.

Mary L. Shannon and Ian Hislop Private Eye

New Plays Added: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery

New plays have been added to the RIN Shakespeare Gallery!

https://romanticillustrationnetwork.wordpress.com/shakespeare-gallery/

To zoom in on the images and see all the details clearly:

  • click on the thumbnails to see them in a larger size
  • click on ‘view full size’ (bottom right)
  • click on the full size image to zoom in, and you can also scroll left/right and up/down

A Christmas Workshop: RIN/House of Illustration Partnership

Anna Glendenning is a PhD candidate from Roehampton’s Centre for Research in Romanticism, who works on caricature. She reports here on the Romantic Illustration Network’s collaboration with the House of Illustration on a workshop for Y8 pupils, supported by the University of Roehampton.

On Thursday 3rd December, the House of Illustration in King’s Cross London was home to an exciting day of collaboration between local schoolchildren, RIN member Dr. Mary L. Shannon from the University of Roehampton, and professional illustrator Merlin Evans.

A group of thirty girls aged 12-13 (from Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington) braved a suitably chilly winter’s morning to visit the House of Illustration, where they immersed themselves in a special workshop on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol .  I also got to help out: it was hugely enjoyable to be part of such an inspiring day of interdisciplinary fun. For the full photostory, see http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Courses/English-and-Creative-Writing/News/There-s-no-Bah-Humbug-this-Christmas-for-pupils-at-illustration-workshop/.

Dickens’ text has long been a favourite in English classrooms, but it was the aim of this collaboration to give the girls a unique opportunity to explore the crucial role of illustrations – both conceptually and creatively – with two experts.

The HOI’s learning programme, with Head of Education Emily Jost at its helm, is dedicated to bringing illustrations into the limelight. Its core aim is to enhance knowledge of and confidence in visual communication for all. The Romantic Illustration Network (RIN) shares this enthusiasm. RIN’s project to restore the importance of visual culture in the Romantic period involves a commitment to sharing and to promoting access to the research it undertakes.

Mary Shannon, who specializes in Victorian print culture and is a Dickens expert, led a lively session. By contrasting different illustrations of Scrooge with Dickens’s narrative, trying out their own sketches, and learning from Shannon about Victorian Christmas traditions, the girls contributed lots of compelling thoughts and critiques, expanding their understanding of the relationship between illustrations and Dickens’s text.

After taking a look at the House of Illustration’s current exhibition, the girls returned to the studio for a special session with Merlin Evans. Evans brought in tools from her trade and shared some different techniques of collage-making and line work to help the girls to get to grips with the material qualities of producing images. The girls rummaged through photocopies of Victorian illustrations and had the chance to try out the new drawing methods Evans had demonstrated. The results were exquisite. The girls were able to compare their work with the earlier sketches they had made – a great way to show how their understanding of Scrooge’s character had developed over the course of the workshop, and, hopefully, to boost their illustration skills and confidence into the future.

Future collaborative workshops involving RIN’s Professor Ian Haywood (Roehampton) and Dr Susan Matthews (Roehampton) are in the pipeline, so watch this space in the New Year!

Anna Glendenning

NEW Online Resource: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery

Announcing: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery
 
Ready for the 2016 anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the Romantic Illustration Network is delighted to announce its digitisation of prints from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, courtesy of negatives provided by Professor Frederick Burwick (UCLA).
 
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was open to the public on London’s Pall Mall from 1789 to 1805. Featuring paintings of scenes from Shakespeare by major artists of the day, including Fuseli, Reynolds, and Kauffmann, the gallery was a popular if not a financial success.
 
Prints of the paintings were published in volumes (as well as in an illustrated edition of Shakespeare), and are now digitised here by the University of Roehampton for use under a Creative Commons license. Images are arranged alphabetically by play, and new plays will be added over the coming months, so do keep checking back on the site. We have also digitised the front matter from the volumes.
 
Click on the thumbnails to access larger versions of the images, and to view the full-sized image. Once you have clicked on a thumbnail there is space to add comments on each image, and we very much encourage you to do so.
 
If you have any feedback, questions, or suggestions, please do let us know.
 

Image of the Month: Mutual undermining by “Boz” and Cruikshank?

Mutual undermining by “Boz” and Cruikshank?

Helen-Frances Pilkington (Birkbeck)

Mary L. Shannon’s paper, at the recent The Artist and the Writer RIN symposium, discussed how Dickens, in the guise of “Boz”, had used Cruikshank’s established visual persona to bolster his own. This led me to think about another “Boz” – Cruikshank relationship from August 1838 in Bentley’s Miscellany, where they had engaged in some mutual under-mining. The sketch in question was the ‘Full Report of the Second Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything’ which was ‘illustrated by George Cruikshank’.

Within this article is a discussion on the local beadle. “Boz” was given the chance to state his case first. Mr Sowster, the reader is informed, was a ‘fat man, with a more enlarged development of that peculiar conformation of countenance which is vulgarly termed a double chin.’ After some ‘unconstitutional proceedings’ in which Mr Sowster was employed as a bouncer for the Mudfog meeting, “Boz” announced that he had ‘procured a local artist to make a faithful sketch of the tyrant Sowster’. This likeness was ‘from the life, and complete in every respect. Even if I had been totally ignorant of the man’s real character, and had it been placed before me without remark, I should have shuddered involuntarily. There is an intense malignity of expression in the features, and a baleful ferocity of purpose in the ruffian’s eye, which appals and sickens. His whole air is rampant with cruelty, nor is the stomach less characteristic of his demoniac propensities.’ Such a description evokes terror, potentially comic, especially when considering the satirical trope of beadles.

As noted by Sally Ledger, one of the prototypes for Mr Bumble, the beadle in Oliver Twist (1837-1838), was Robert Seymour’s 1830 engraving ‘Heaven and Earth’ in which a beadle, in a cocked hat, flowing robes and staff, descends from the clouds to deny relief to starving paupers (Figure 1: bottom centre).

Figure 1: Robert Seymour, ‘Heaven & Earth’, 1830 © British Museum

Ledger noted that ‘this image of the Beadle as a pompously attired, self-important petty official that established a satirical genealogy upon which Dickens and Cruikshank would together build a few years later in Sketches by Boz and Oliver Twist‘. Given the “Boz”-ian text, the date and the article title proclaiming the Cruikshank illustrations, the expectation for the first readers would have been a continuation of this trope. However, the ‘faithful’ sketch by the ‘local artist’ in Bentley’s Miscellany turned out to be quite different (Figure 2):

Figure 2: George Cruikshank, 'The Tyrant Sowster', Bentley's Miscellany (1838) © Victoria and Albert Museum

Figure 2: George Cruikshank, ‘The Tyrant Sowster’, Bentley’s Miscellany (1838) © Victoria and Albert Museum

In Figure 2, Cruikshank has depicted Sowster as a benignly comic figure, all double-chin and belly with little arms and legs attached, rather than the ferocious tyrant per “Boz’s” description or the pompous petty official of the satirical stereotype. So who is right? Is the ‘local artist’ incapable of accurate sketching or has “Boz” been carried away by his rhetoric?

Helen-Frances Pilkington (Birkbeck)

Helen-Frances is a PhD student at Birkbeck focusing on hot air balloons and railways in the early nineteenth century

Sources:

Dickens, Charles; ‘The Second Report of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything’; Bentley’s Miscellany; 4; (August 1838); 209-227.

Ledger, Sally; ‘From Queen Caroline to Lady Deadlock: Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination’; Victorian Literature and Culture; 32; (2004); 575-600.

Event Report: ‘The Artist and the Writer’, IES, 29th November 2014. Supported by the British Association of Victorian Studies and the University of Roehampton.

‘The Artist and the Writer’, IES, 29th November 2014.

Supported by the British Association of Victorian Studies (www.bavs.ac.uk) and the University of Roehampton.

‘The Artist and the Writer’ at IES told a chronological narrative of the relationship between artists and writers c. 1750 – 1850, revealing the contrasts and connections in book illustration from the eighteenth century to the Victorian period. The day opened with Lynn Shepherd’s paper on ‘Illustrating Pamela’. Shepherd showed how the illustrations to Pamela by Hayman and Gravelot create a narrative with a significantly different perspective from that provided by Pamela’s narration.  In the 28 illustrations – chosen on literary rather than visual grounds by Richardson himself – the ‘warm scenes’ are totally omitted.  Mr B’s assaults therefore exist only in Pamela’s words and not in the third person visual narration of the illustrations.  Lynn Shepherd read the images in terms of the pyramidal structures of contemporary conversation pieces, and also traced the gradual disappearance of barriers placing Pamela outside the class territory occupied by Mr B. The following discussion focused on the question of the kinds of visual literacy that readers might have brought to the task of reading the illustrations.  Shepherd argued that those who had sat for portraits would have understood the visual languages of these images.

Mary L. Shannon (Roehampton) introduces novelist and scholar Lynn Shepherd

Mary L. Shannon (Roehampton) introduces novelist and scholar Lynn Shepherd

Sandro Jung’s paper on ‘Thomas Stothard, Romantic Literature and the Illustrative Vignette’ took an ephemeral publication – The Royal Engagement Pocket Atlas  – as a means to overturn some of the key assumptions of illustration studies, namely that illustrators focused on old canon works newly freed from copyright. Stothard’s more than 800 head vignettes for Baker’s annual diary featured illustrations to recent and fashionable authors, prompting purchasers to discuss their current reading.  Baker followed Bell’s example in commissioning illustrations, but Baker made the decision to include recent poets not illustrated by Bell. Stothard, for instance, illustrated Crabbe, Byron and Scott, as well as Hayley’s Triumphs of Temper and Rogers’ Pleasures of Memory.  Stothard’s recognizable visual style thus provided a branding device not just for Baker’s publication but also for the concept of literature.  Jung argued that the Baker series offers a snapshot of consumer historical conditions.

Tim Fulford presented the early nineteenth-century as a period of virtual travel, when travellers prepared themselves by visiting exhibitions and looking at engravings, and picture books changed what the Romantic poets published.  Turning away from an earlier anti-picturesque aesthetic, and an earlier hostility about literary annuals, after 1818 Wordsworth and Southey repeatedly produced virtual topography, which functioned as guides for tourists.  The new urban bourgeoisie craved reminders of the countryside they had left, and technical developments made illustrations increasingly affordable.  Industrialization lowered the cost of paper, while from the 1820s the move to steel rather than copper engraving made larger print runs possible.  The Lake District gained its name through the sale of books of engraved views which were more popular than verse.  The Lake poets were therefore keen to foster links with artists and by the 1820s were working on jointly authored picture books in which poems were written to accompany pictures.  In the following discussion William St Clair argued that we needed to follow the logic of two industries and two media, tracing the links between them.

Exhibition of images from Senate  House Special Collections

Exhibition of images from Senate
House Special Collections

After a lunch sponsored by the British Association for Victorian Studies, and a visit to see some beautiful illustrated books in the Senate House library Special Collections (chosen to complement the day’s talks), Sophie Thomas traced the pre-history of the figure of the Bard in painting and illustration, from Thomas Jones’ the Bard (1774) via West, Sandby, Fuseli, Turner and Martin to the Bard in Blake’s illustrations to Gray and his painting of Gray’s Bard for his 1809 exhibition. Thomas’s paper on ‘Bardic Exhibitionism’ showed how Gray’s Bard appeared in Bentley’s illustrated Gray and reappeared in a lower illustrative mode in editions by Bell and Cooke, carrying complex meanings.

In the final session on Dickens, Mary L. Shannon’s ‘What did Dickens learn from Romantic Illustration?’ argued that Dickens drew on the more recognizable figure of Cruikshank to establish his own public identity, creating a visual image which drew on the conventions of visual Byronism.  Sadly, Ruth Richardson was unable to speak due to a bereavement, so more time was then devoted to open discussion. This ranged across author portraits, later images of Dickens and Victorian authors, continuities between the Romantic and Victorian periods, and links between theatre and visual culture. Anthony Mandal reminded us of the influence of Scott on Dickens, and Julia Thomas raised the significance of Luke Fildes’ watercolour tribute to Dickens, ‘The Empty Chair’ (1870).  The day concluded with a sociable drink nearby, at which it was agreed that the lively atmosphere, high-quality papers, and the trip to Special Collections had all made the event enjoyable, varied, and successful.

Susan Matthews, University of Roehampton

REGISTRATION open and PROGRAMME confirmed: ‘The Artist and the Writer’, Saturday 29th Nov. 10-5, IES, Senate House, London

We are delighted to announce that REGISTRATION is OPEN and the PROGRAMME CONFIRMED for:

‘The Artist and the Writer’ (a Romantic Illustration Network event)

29 November 2014, 10am – 5pm

Institute of English Studies, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Supported by the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS): http://www.bavs.ac.uk/ and the University of Roehampton.

REGISTRATION is FREE, but places are LIMITED. Register at: http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/ies-conferences/ArtistWriter

Full programme below, and at https://romanticillustrationnetwork.wordpress.com/events/, where all abstracts will be posted in advance of the event.

We look forward to seeing you in November!

10.00 Registration

10.15 Lynn Shepherd (Richardson scholar and novelist): ‘Reading Pamela, picturing Pamela: Samuel Richardson illustrates his novel’

11.00 tea and coffee

11.15 Sandro Jung (Ghent): ‘Thomas Stothard, Romantic Literature, and the Illustrative Vignette’

12.00 Tim Fulford (De Montfort): ‘William Westall and the Lake Poets’

12.45 sandwich lunch

2.00 Sophie Thomas (Ryerson, Canada): ‘Bardic Exhibitionism: Illustration and the ‘Open’ Text in Blake and Gray’

2.45 tea and coffee

3.15 Mary L. Shannon (Roehampton): ‘What Did Dickens Learn From Romantic Illustration?’

3.45 Ruth Richardson (King’s College London; Cambridge): ‘Dickens, Cruikshank, and Oliver Twist’

4.30 Open discussion

5.00pm Close. Please join us for a drink at a pub nearby.