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Guide to the George Cruikshank letters, 1845, 1868 MS 297
George Cruikshank, born in London on September 27, 1792 to a Scottish painter, Isaac Cruikshank, and his wife, was an English humorist and illustrator. Briefly educated at Edgeware, he is considered by some to be one of the best humorists that Britain ever produced. Cruikshank began his career as a political satirist but moved on to become a book illustrator. He also had a late interest in oil painting, enrolling in the Academy Schools as a student at the age of sixty-four. In his lifetime he created nearly 10,000 prints, illustrations, and plates. His early drawings often featured attacks on Britain’s royal family. In the 1820s his preoccupation with political caricature waned, however, as he became more interested in theatrical caricatures and book illustrations. Cruikshank produced some of his best-known work for Charles Dickens, beginning with Sketches by Boz, (1836) and reaching an apex with Oliver Twist, Oliver Twist, (1838). Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pilgrim’s Progress, Paradise Lost, and seven novels by William Harrison Ainsworth were among other works he illustrated.
Cruikshank married Mary Ann Walker (1807-1849) on October 16, 1827. Two years after her death, on March 7, 1851, he married Eliza Widdison. Later in his life, Cruikshank supported the temperance movement, creating prints illustrating the evils of alcohol. Collections of his works are in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums. George Cruikshank died February 1, 1878.
Two autographed letters by George Cruikshank. One letter, dated November 7, 1845 is addressed to Angus B. Reach (1821-1856), a journalist and author of Clement Lorimer, or, The Book with the Iron Clasps. George Cruikshank provided twelve etchings for this novel. Another letter, dated March 20, 1868 is addressed to Captain [Edwin] Hurley. This letter is mounted in a slip-cased bound volume, with a portrait (etching) of George Cruikshank (Daniel Maclise, 1833). .
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Permission to publish from the George Cruikshank letters, 1845, 1968 must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
George Cruikshank letters, MS 297, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
The 1868 letter was donated in 1970; the 1845 letter was purchased in 1980.