London illustrations by Gustave Doré

Book/Illustration/Image

Description

English

In 1869 the journalist Blanchard Jerrold (1826-1884) joined forces with the famous French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) to produce an illustrated record of the ‘shadows and sunlight’ of London. As Jerrold later recalled, they spent many days and nights exploring the capital, often protected by plain-clothes policemen. They visited night refuges, cheap lodging houses and the opium den described by Charles Dickens in the sinister opening chapter ofThe Mystery of Edwin Drood; they travelled up and down the river and attended fashionable events at Lambeth Palace, the boat race and the Derby. The ambitious project, which took four years to complete, was eventually published as London: a pilgrimage with 180 engravings. 

Contemporary critics had severe reservations about the book. Doré disliked sketching in public so there were many errors of detail; it showed only the extremes of society, and Jerrold’s text was superficial. Both were transfixed by the deprivation, squalor and wretchedness of the lives of the poor, even though they realised that London was changing and some of the worst social evils were beginning to be addressed. Despite these criticisms, Doré’s work has become celebrated for its dramatic use of light and shade, and the power of his images to capture the atmosphere of mid-Victorian London.

Full title
London: A Pilgrimage. With illustrations by Gustave Dore
Published
1872 , London
Format
Book / Illustration / Image
Creator
William Blanchard Jerrold , Gustave Doré [illustrator]
Held by
British Library
Usage Terms
Free from known copyright restrictions
Shelfmark
Wf1/1856

Related articles

Railways in Victorian fiction

Article by
John Mullan
Themes: 
Technology and science, The novel 1832 - 1880

The first railway line in Britain opened in 1830, transforming how the public travelled and communicated – and read fiction. Focusing on the work of Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and George Eliot, Professor John Mullan explores the influence of the railway on Victorian novels.

Slums

Article by
Judith Flanders
Theme: 
Poverty and the working classes

Judith Flanders examines the state of housing for the 19th-century urban poor, assessing the ‘improvements’ carried out in slum areas and the efforts of writers, including Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew, to publicise such living conditions.

The built environment

Article by
Liza Picard
Theme: 
Technology and science

Liza Picard examines how industrialisation altered the building of cities and affected the different social classes living within them.

Related collection items