George Cruikshank (George Cruikshank)

George Cruikshank

Illustrator,  Cartoonist,  Editor.  Considered one of England’s  outstanding 19th Century graphic artists.  He is probably best remembered today for his association with author Charles Dickens.  Cruikshank was born in London,  to Scottish parents.  He apprenticed with his father,  a noted printmaker,  and by age 18 was already famous as a political cartoonist.  His pungent observations of English life and rule made him the country’s most popular satirist of the Regency period,  so much so that when George IV came to the throne in 1820,  he allegedly had Cruikshank paid off to leave the royal family out of his attacks.  From the early 1820s he was active mainly as a book illustrator,  though he continued to contribute cartoons to satirical journals and was publisher-editor of “The Comic Almanack” from 1835 to 1853.  The engravings he provided for “German Popular Stories” (1823),  the first English translation of Grimm’s tales,  brought him an international reputation. Cruikshank’s “literary” style was a striking synthesis of realism and caricature,  shot through with humor and drama,  and he was the ideal choice to illustrate Dickens’ books “Sketches by Boz” (1836),  “The Mudfog Papers” (1837),  and “Oliver Twist” (1838),  the tale “The Lamplighter’s Story” (1841),  and the “Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi” (1838),  which Dickens edited.  Contractual obligations prevented their collaborating again and their friendship soured in the late 1840s over the artist’s outspoken support of the Temperance movement. (Cruikshank quit drinking in 1847 and from then on advocated total abstinence,  while Dickens favored moderation).  From 1853 to 1864 he illustrated and published “The Fairy Library”,  a collection of traditional children’s stories altered to include anti-alcohol messages;  Dickens savaged this enterprise with the parody “Frauds Against the Fairies” (1853),  and the feud continued until the novelist’s death in 1870.  Cruikshank fired the last shot a year later,  asserting that he had supplied Dickens with much of the plot for “Oliver Twist”,  a claim subsequently refuted by Dickens’ letters of the time.  During his long career Cruikshank produced over 10,000 prints and illustrated 860 books,  including editions of Cowper’s “John Gilpin” (1828),  Dafoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” (1831),  Scott’s “Waverley” (1839),  Ainsworth’s “The Tower of London” (1840),  Thackeray’s “Legend of the Rhine” (1845),  and Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (1853).  There are collections of his work in the British and Victoria and Albert Museums. (bio by: Bobb Edwards)


  • September, 27, 1791


  • February, 02, 1878


  • Saint Paul's Cathedral
  • England

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