George Cruikshank (1792–1878) was, from the 1820s onwards, one of Britain’s most renowned satirical illustrators. His subject matter included politicians, the anti-slavery movement, royalty and observations of everyday life. He also illustrated novels; indeed, among his most famous illustrations are those he created for Dickens's Oliver Twist (1837).
This illustration shows Fagin, the criminal gangmaster, conspiring with ‘Morris Dolter’ (Noah Claypole under the assumed name of Morris Bolter, misspelt by the artist). It reappeared in Forster’s biographyThe Life of Dickens in 1872.
Cruikshank had been friendly with the Dickens, also illustrating The Mudfog Papers and Sketches by Boz. However, he quarrelled with him later on, mainly over their differing attitudes to temperance (after youthful heavy drinking, Cruikshank became a firm advocate of abstinence from alcohol, while Dickens preferred moderation). The artist even claimed in a letter to The Times in 1871 that Dickens had stolen the plot of Oliver Twist from him.
- Full title:
- Proof engraving of 'The Jew and Morris Dolter [sic] begin to understand each other'. (1838). Reverse pencil notes: 'First state. The name was spelt 'Dolter' instead of 'Bolter'. [from the author's presentation copy of The Life of Dickens, 1872-74]
- 1838, London
- Print / Image
- George Cruikshank, John Forster [compiler]
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- British Library
- Dex.316. - Vol I, part II
- Article by:
- Claire Wood
- The Gothic, The novel 1832–1880
Dr Claire Wood examines how Dickens blends multiple genres in Oliver Twist, including melodrama, the Gothic, satire and social commentary.