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Posts Tagged ‘George Cruikshank’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Lieutenant-General Benjamin Bloomfield 1st Baron Bloomfield
13 April 1768 – 15 August 1846

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Benjamin Bloomfield

Lieutenant-General Benjamin Bloomfield 1st Baron Bloomfield was born in 1768, the son of John Bloomfield and Anne Charlotte Waller, and educated at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1781. After seeing action at the Battle of Vinegar Hill in June 1798 during the Irish Rebellion, he served in Newfoundland, Gibraltar, and at Brighton in 1806, where, as a brevet Major, he was in charge of a troop of the Royal Horse Artillery. He was also appointed a Gentleman in Waiting to the King that year. Promoted to major-general on 4 June 1814, he was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery on 21 February 1824 and became Commanding Officer of the garrison at Woolwich in 1826.

He served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Plymouth from 1812 from 1818 and was made a Privy Councillor on 19 July 1817.

He was an Aide-de-Camp, then Chief Equerry and Clerk Marshal to the Prince of Wales and finally was Private Secretary to the King, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Receiver of the Duchy of Cornwall from 1817 to 1822. He was knighted on 12 December 1815, appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 1 April 1822, and ennobled in the peerage of Ireland as Lord Bloomfield on 11 May 1825.

Benjamin Bloomfield took over this rather wretched position in 1817 following the extremely successful tenure of his predecessor, Sir John McMahon. Bloomfield was selected partly as a result of his skills of negotiation, shown through a secret mission to Sweden by the government as Minister Plenipotentiary. Bloomfield’s relationship with the Prince Regent was necessarily close, as the role of the Private Secretary to the Prince Regent was to suppress his most mischievous secrets to a media who so ferociously pursued his misdemeanours. This was no simple task as the Prince Regent’s flamboyant lifestyle did not abate despite pressure from various sources.

In the year that the Prince Regent became King, 1820, there were over 800 cartoons depicting him in various states of disorder, which greatly distressed the new monarch. Bloomfield was ordered to prevent as many of these cartoons from being published as possible by bribing cartoonists using a ‘secret service fund’. From 1819 to 1822, Bloomfield spent over £2,600 worth of taxpayer’s money on such bribery, including noted men of the field such as J.L. Marks and George Cruikshank. This provided them a fruitful second income and even more serendipitously saved them the cost of both paper and ink. This line of work put an increasing strain upon Bloomfield’s relationship with the King, and the former’s criticisms of his royal master became unbearable. Indeed, it became apparent that Bloomfield’s job of curbing the King’s royal expenditure was no more successful than his predecessors leading to Parliamentary discussions concerning the matter.

Bloomfield was summoned to a meeting with the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and gave his most sincere assurances that he would do as much as he could to control the King’s wild spending. From then on in, the royal household had a financial regime based upon accountability imposed, meaning that Bloomfield had to scrutinise every scintilla of royal spending with an even keener eye. Bloomfield’s heightened meddling in royal expenditure infuriated the King, severing any last strands of friendship between them, with the King increasingly shouting at his secretary and even giving him a ‘good hearty shake’. In March 1822, Bloomfield complained to the Tory MP Charles Arbuthnot that the King no longer even shook hands or spoke to him when he entered the room, and even publicly abused him in the presence of a royal cook. Bloomfield’s persistence in curbing the royal purse was admirable, however, his efficiency now irked the King’s mistress, Lady Conyngham, who wished him to be relieved of his post. This gossip became public knowledge, which the contemporary satirists delighted in mocking, noting that Lady Conyngham and Bloomfield were perhaps too similar to ever fall out:

‘Ben Bloomfield and the fat old cook,
Herself a perfect larder,
A simple jig together took,
The tune was Shave the Barber’.

The King and Lady Conyngham’s dislike of Bloomfield was further evident on the King’s trip to Scotland on 10 August 1822, as the rising star of the King’s entourage, Sir William Knighton, was situated next to the King’s cabin, whilst Bloomfield was rather coldly relegated to a cabin far further away. Furthermore, Conyngham encouraged her son, Francis, to shoulder some of Bloomfield’s responsibilities, much to Bloomfield’s obvious displeasure. There was even a rumour that some of Lady Conyngham’s jewels belonged to the Crown, a fact known by Bloomfield, and therefore the royal mistress felt compelled to have him removed. As Bloomfield began to be undermined by Sir William Knighton and Francis Conyngham, his self-confidence started to fade, his grip on the royal purse was weakened and he abruptly had his salary stopped by royal command- his demise was imminent. In an act of desperation he began to lobby Parliament, claiming ‘royal betrayal’, however, this was ineffective as Lady Conyngham’s family were attached to Bloomfield’s target audience- the Whig opposition- and therefore his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Bloomfield’s downfall was hastened further by a royal visit to Dublin in 1821. In one incident, the King visited a local theatre, and believing Bloomfield to be an important member of the King’s party, the manager began playing the national anthem as Bloomfield entered his box, responding by bowing and smiling jokingly as the crowd rose and began singing ‘God Save the King’ (believing Bloomfield to be a member of the royal family). The King, noted for his sense of humour, was unusually furious at this act, declaring it an insult. Another plausible explanation for Bloomfield’s demise is provided by a courtier, Sir William Freemantle in a letter to the Duke of Buckingham. The King’s expenses from the spring of 1822 showed a considerable amount of money had been spent on an undisclosed item, which Bloomfield revealed to be the purchase of diamonds by the King. The King considered this to be damaging, and showed beyond all doubt that Bloomfield had lost his ability to protect the King’s image at all costs. The diamonds were most probably for the royal mistress, an assertion which the media exposed. In a last humiliating episode for Bloomfield, he was ordered by the King to pay J.L. Marks a sum of £45 to prevent the publication of a cartoon which implicated the King and his mistress in the diamond affair, after Marks sent a copy to the King’s residence before its publication. Marks duly ripped up the plate before his eyes, despite having made copies sneakily beforehand. In fact Bloomfield had spent a fortune buying up caricatures.

Finally, to the relief of the King, ministers agreed that Bloomfield should be removed from his position. The King wrote to Lord Liverpool, asking for the post of Private Secretary to be abolished to make Bloomfield’s departure appear to be a matter of politics rather than the Crown. Bloomfield was offered the Governorship of Ceylon as compensation, or his current salary for life and the Order of the Bath. Bloomfield felt that his efforts deserved at the very least an English peerage, the King however flew into a rage when hearing Bloomfield’s demand, threatening to have him alienated from society, just as his wife had been. Bloomfield pragmatically refused the position of Governor of Ceylon, but accepted the Order of the Bath, a sinecure worth £650 per annum and the Governorship of Fort Charles in Jamaica, that he would later exchange for the post of Minister at Stockholm. The King invited him to the Royal Pavilion at Brighton one last time to receive the Order of the Bath from the King, but thought better of it, and did not journey to meet his former royal master for the last time.

Following his turbulent years in service to the King, Bloomfield unexpectedly embraced the values of Methodism and became a devout Christian. His house in Portman Square, London amused many a passer-by as he would often have a placard on his front door, adorned with the words ‘At Prayer’.

Bloomfield was promoted to lieutenant general on 22 July 1830 and died in Ireland in 1846. He was buried at Borrisnafarney Parish Church in the Bloomfield Mausoleum in County Offaly, Ireland which is located 1.5 miles from the village of Moneygall beside the Loughton Estate

Bloomfield married Harriott Douglas, daughter of John Douglas, on 7 September 1797. They had a son, John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield, 1st Baron Bloomfield of Ciamhaltha who was created Baron Bloomfield, of Ciamhaltha in the County of Tipperary, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, on his retirement as British Ambassador to Austria, and two daughters, Georgina and Harriott.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Harrison Ainsworth
4 February 1805 – 3 January 1882

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William Harrison Ainsworth

Ainsworth was born on 4 February 1805 to Thomas Ainsworth, a prominent Manchester lawyer, and Ann (Harrison) Ainsworth, the daughter of the Unitarian minister at Manchester Cross Street Chapel, the Rev. Ralph Harrison, in the family house at 21 King Street, Manchester. On 4 October 1806, Ainsworth’s brother, Thomas Gilbert Ainsworth, was born. Although the family home was eventually destroyed, it was a three-storey Georgian home in a well to do community. The area influenced Ainsworth with its historical and romantic atmosphere, which existed until the community was later replaced by commercial buildings. Besides the community, Ainsworth read romantic works as a child and enjoyed stories dealing with either adventure or supernatural themes. Of these, Dick Turpin was a favourite of Ainsworth. During his childhood, he adopted Jacobean ideas and held Tory ideas in addition to his Jacobite sympathies, even though his community was strict Whig and Nonconformist. During this time, Ainsworth began to write prolifically.

The Ainsworth family moved to Smedly Lane, north of Manchester in Cheetham Hill, during 1811. They kept the old residence in addition to the new, but resided in the new home most of the time. The surrounding hilly country was covered in woods, which allowed Ainsworth and his brother to act out various stories. When not playing, Ainsworth was tutored by his uncle, William Harrison. In March 1817, he was enrolled at the Manchester Grammar School, which was described in his novel Mervyn Clitheroe. The work emphasised that his classical education was of good quality but was reinforced with strict discipline and corporal punishment. Ainsworth was a strong student and was popular among his fellow students. Ainsworth’s school days were mixed; his time within the school and with his family was calm even though there were struggles within the Manchester community, the Peterloo Massacre taking place in 1819. Ainsworth was connected to the event because his uncles joined in protest at the incident, but Ainsworth was able to avoid most of the political after-effects. During the time, he was able to pursue his own literary interests and even created his own little theatre within the family home at King Street. He, along with his friends and brother, created and acted in many plays throughout 1820.

During 1820, Ainsworth began to publish many of his works under the name “Thomas Hall”. The first work, a play called The Rivals, was published on 5 March 1821 in Arliss’s Pocket Magazine. Throughout 1821, the magazine printed 17 other works of Ainsworth’s under the name “Thomas Hall”, “H A” or “W A”. The genre and forms of the work greatly varied, with one being a claim to have found plays of a 17th-century playwright “William Aynesworthe”, which ended up being his own works. This trick was later exposed. In December 1821, Ainsworth submitted his play Venice, or the Fall of the Foscaris to The Edinburgh Magazine. They printed large excerpts from the play before praising Ainsworth as a playwright as someone that rivalled even George Gordon Byron. During this time, Ainsworth was also contributing works to The European Magazine in addition to the other magazines, and they published many of his early stories. Eventually, he left the Manchester Grammar School in 1822 while constantly contributing to magazines.

After leaving school, Ainsworth began to study for law and worked under Alexander Kay. The two did not get along, and Ainsworth was accused of being lazy. Although Ainsworth did not want to pursue a legal career, his father pushed him into the field. Instead of working, Ainsworth spent his time reading literature at his home and various libraries, including the Chetham Library. He continued to work as an attorney in Manchester and spent his time when not working or reading at the John Shaw’s Club. By the end of 1822, Ainsworth was writing for The London Magazine, which allowed him to become close to Charles Lamb, to whom Ainsworth sent poetry for Lamb’s response. After receiving a favourable response for one set of works, Ainsworth had them published by John Arliss as Poems by Cheviot Ticheburn. He travelled some during 1822, and visited his childhood friend James Crossley in Edinburgh during August. While there, Crossley introduced Ainsworth to William Blackwood, the owner of Blackwood’s Magazine, and, through Blackwood, was introduced to many Scottish writers.

Besides Crossley, another close friend to Ainsworth was John Aston, a clerk who worked in his father’s legal firm. In 1823, Ainsworth and Crossley began to write many works together, including the first novel Sir John Chiverton. Ainsworth wrote to Thomas Campbell, editor of The New Monthly Magazine, about publishing the work: but Campbell lost the letter. At the request of Ainsworth, Crossley travelled to London to meet Campbell and discuss the matter before visiting in November. Although the novel was not yet published, in December 1823, Ainsworth was able to get G. and W. Whittaker to publish a collection of his stories as December Tales. During 1824, Ainsworth set about producing his own magazine, The Boeotian, which was first published on 20 March but ended after its sixth issue on 24 April.

Ainsworth’s father died on 20 June 1824 and Ainsworth became a senior in the law firm and began to focus on his legal studies. To this end he left for London at the end of 1824 to study under Jacob Phillips, a barrister at King’s Bench Walk. Ainsworth lived at Devereux Court, a place that was favoured by Augustine writers. During his stay, he visited Lamb, but felt let down by the real Lamb. Ainsworth attended Lamb’s circle, and met many individuals including Henry Crabb Robinson and Mary Shelley. During the summer of 1825, Ainsworth returned on a trip to Manchester in order to meet Crossley before travelling to the Isle of Man. He continued to write, and a collection of his poems called The Works of Cheviot Tichburn, with the types of John Leigh was published. He also had two works published in The Literary Souvenir, a magazine published by John Ebers.

On 4 February 1826, Ainsworth came of age and on 8 February was made a solicitor of the Court of King’s Bench. During this time, he befriended Ebers, who also owned the Opera House, Haymarket. Ainsworth would constantly visit shows at the house, and he fell in love with Ebers’s daughter Fanny during his visits. The relationship with the Ebers family continued, and John published a pamphlet of Ainsworth’s called Considerations on the best means of affording Immediate Relief to the Operative Classes in the Manufacturing Districts. The work, addressed to Robert Peel, discussed the economic situation in Manchester along with the rest of Britain. By June, Ainsworth left politics and focused on poetry with the publication of Letters from Cokney Lands. While these were printed he continued to work on his novel Sir John Chiverton and sought to have it published.

The novel was published by Ebers in July 1826. Ebers became interested in Ainsworth’s novel early on and started to add discussions about it in The Literary Souvenir in order to promote the work. Although the work was jointly written and sometimes claimed by Aston as solely his, many of the reviews described the novel as Ainsworth’s alone. The novel also brought Ainsworth to the attention of historical novelist Walter Scott, who later wrote about the work in various articles; the two later met in 1828. During that year, J. G. Lockhartt published Scott’s private journals and instigated the notion that the novel was an imitation of Scott. Sir John Chiverton is neither a true historical novel nor is it a gothic novel. It was also seen by Ainsworth as an incomplete work and he later ignored it when creating his bibliography. The novel does serve as a precursor to Ainsworth’s first major novel, Rookwood.

Ainsworth’s relationship with the Ebers family grew, and he married Fanny on 11 October 1826 with little warning to his family or friends. Ebers promised to pay a dowry of 300 pounds, but the funds were never given and this caused a strain in the relationship between Ainsworth and his father-in-law. Ainsworth continued in Ebers’s circle and attended many social events. He was encouraged by Ebers to sell his partnership in the Ainsworth law firm along with starting a publishing business. Ainsworth followed this advice, and the business had early success. In 1827, Fanny gave birth to a girl who took her name. Soon after, Ebers went bankrupt and Ainsworth lost a large sum as a consequence. Ainsworth published a few popular works, including The French Cook, the annual magazine Mayfair, and some others. By 1829, Ebers took over Ainsworth’s publishing business, and Fanny gave birth to another daughter, Emily, soon after. Ainsworth gave up on publishing and resumed working in law. When a third daughter, Anne, was born in 1830, Ainsworth’s family began to feel financially strained. Ainsworth returned to writing and he contributed to Fraser’s Magazine, but it is uncertain how many works were actually his. However, he was working on his novel Rookwood.

By 1829, Ainsworth was neither a lawyer nor a publisher; indeed he did not have any employment at all. He longed for his youthful days in Manchester and pondered writing another novel. By the summer, he had begun to travel. It was during this time that he began to develop the idea of Rookwood, and began searching for information on the subject. While researching for the novel in 1830, Ainsworth was living at Kensal Lodge. He worked on some theatrical pieces and spent the rest of his time working in the legal profession. He soon became friends with William Sergison, and the two travelled to Italy and Switzerland during that summer. During their travels, they visited the tomb of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, along with witnessing other notable scenes in the lives of the British Romantic poets. Sergison was also the owner of a residence in Sussex, upon which Ainsworth drew in his novel. After the two returned to London, Ainsworth began working for Fraser’s Magazine, which was launched in 1830. The group included many famous literary figures of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Thomas Carlyle, James Hogg and William Makepeace Thackeray. It was not until a visit to Chesterfield towards the end of 1831 that he was fully inspired to begin writing the novel.

Although he began writing the novel, Ainsworth suffered from more of his father-in-law’s financial problems and was unable to resume work on it until 1833. During the autumn of that year he managed to complete large portions of the novel while staying in Sussex, near Sergison’s home. The novel was published in April 1834 by Richard Bentley and contained illustrations by George Cruikshank. After working five years in the legal profession, Ainsworth gave it up and dedicated himself to writing. Rookwood garnered wide critical and financial success, and pleased his associates at Fraser’s Magazine. He started to dress as a dandy, and he was introduced to the Salon of Margaret Power, Countess of Blessington. Her Salon was a group of men and literary women, and would include many others but many in London believed that Blessington had a damaged reputation. However, this did not stop Ainsworth from meeting many famous British authors from the Salon. While part of her circle, he wrote for her collection of stories called The Book of Beauty, published in 1835. Ainsworth continued in various literary circles, but his wife and daughters did not; he stayed in Kensal Lodge while they lived with Ebers. During this time, Ainsworth met Charles Dickens and introduced the young writer to the publisher Macrone and to George Cruikshank. Ainsworth also introduced Dickens to John Forster at Kensal Lodge, initiating a close friendship between the two.

From 1835 until 1838, Ainsworth and Dickens were close friends and often travelled together. Rookwood was published in multiple editions, with a fourth edition in 1836 including illustrations by Cruikshank, which started the working relationship between the two. Ainsworth began writing another novel in 1835. Called Crichton, he devoted much of his time to it to the point of not having time for many of his literary friends. Its publication was temporarily delayed while Ainsworth was searching for an illustrator, with Thackeray being a possible choice. However, Ainsworth felt the illustrations were unsatisfactory, so he switched to Daniel Maclise, who was also later dropped. Coinciding with the search for an illustrator and hurrying to complete the novel, Ainsworth was asked to write for the magazine The Lions of London, but could not find the time to work on both projects and so attempted to finish the novel. The situation changed after Macrone, the original intended publisher, died. Ainsworth turned to Bentley as a publisher. Ainsworth eventually published his third novel in 1837. A fifth edition of Rookwood appeared in 1837, and its success encouraged Ainsworth to work on another novel about a famous outlaw, including the story of Jack Sheppard.

In 1839, Ainsworth was working on his next novel. Jack Sheppard was serially published in Bentley’s Miscellany from January 1839 until February 1840 while Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist ran in the magazine. A controversy developed over the Newgate novels, and Dickens became distant from Ainsworth over the controversy. Soon after, Dickens retired from the magazine as its editor and made way for Ainsworth to replace him at the end of 1839. Jack Sheppard was published in a three volume edition by Bentley in October 1839, and 8 different theatrical versions of the story were staged in autumn 1839. Ainsworth followed Jack Sheppard with two novels: Guy Fawkes and The Tower of London. Both ran through 1840, and Ainsworth celebrated the conclusion of The Tower of London with a large dinner party to celebrate the works.

With the 1840 novels finished, Ainsworth began to write Old St. Paul’s, A Tale of the Plague and the Fire. The work ran in The Sunday Times from 3 January 1841 to 26 December 1841, which was an achievement as he became one of the first writers to have a work appear in a national paper in such a form. His next works, Windsor Castle and The Miser’s Daughter, appeared in 1842. The first mention of Windsor Castle comes in a letter to Crossley, 17 November 1841, in which Ainsworth admits to writing a novel about Windsor Castle and the events surrounding Henry VIII’s first and second marriages. The Miser’s Daughter was published first, starting with the creation of the Ainsworth’s Magazine, an independent project that Ainsworth started after leaving Bentley’s Miscellany. To create the magazine, Ainsworth joined up with Cruikshank who would serve as the illustrator. Cruikshank moved his efforts from his own magazine, The Omnibus to the new magazine, and an advertisement for it appeared in December 1841 saying that the first issue would be published on 29 January 1842. The opening of the magazine was welcomed by contemporary members of the press, which only increased as the magazine proved to be successful. Ainsworth’s Magazine marked the height of his career.

Ainsworth hoped to start publishing Windsor Castle in his magazine by April, but he was delayed when his mother died on 15 March 1842. John Forster wrote to Ainsworth to offer assistance in writing the novel, but there is no evidence that Ainsworth accepted. The work was soon finished and started appearing in the magazine by July 1842, where it ran until June 1843. George Cruikshank, illustrator for The Miser’s Daughter, took over as illustrator for Windsor Castle after the first one finished its run. A play version of The Miser’s Daughter, by Edward Stirling, appeared in October 1842, with another version by T. P. Taylor in November. During this time, Ainsworth had many well-known contributors to his magazine, including the wife of Robert Southey, Robert Bell, William Maginn in a posthumous publication, and others. By the end of 1843, Ainsworth sold his stake in the Ainsworth’s Magazine to John Mortimer while staying as the editor. The next work that Ainsworth included in his magazine was Saint James’s or the Court of Queen Anne, An Historical Romance, which ran from January 1844 until December 1844. The work was illustrated by George Cruikshank, which marks the last time that Ainsworth and Cruikshank collaborated on a novel.

In 1844, Ainsworth helped in the building of the monument to Walter Scott in Edinburgh. He spent his year visiting many people, including members of the British nobility. The popularity of his magazine decreased in the year due to a lack of quality works except for a series by Leigh Hunt, A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla. Even Ainsworth’s own work, St James’s, was damaged because it was written in haste. During this time, Ainsworth began one of his best novels, Auriol, but it was never finished. It was published in part between 1844–1845 as Revelations of London. Hablot Browne, using the name “Phiz”, illustrated the work and became the main illustrator for the magazine. The novel was being produced until Ainsworth and Mortimer fought in early 1845, and Ainsworth resigned as editor. Soon after, Ainsworth bought The New Monthly Magazine and started asking contributors to the Ainsworth’s Magazine to join him at the new periodical. Ainsworth issued an advertisement saying that there would be contributors of “high rank”, which caused Thackeray to attack Ainsworth in Punch for favouring the nobility. However, Thackeray later contributed to the magazine along with others including Hunt, E V Keanley, G P R James, Horace Smith, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Ainsworth reprinted many of his own works in the magazine and his own portrait, the latter provoking a mock portrait of the back of Ainsworth’s head in Punch as the only angle that Ainsworth had not yet published for the public.

In 1845, two of Ainsworth’s friends and contributors died, Laman Blanchard and Richard Barham. Later in the year, Ainsworth was able to regain control over the Ainsworth’s Magazine and continued to republish many of his earlier works. He spent much of his time recruiting contributors to the two magazines, and published a new work in 1847, James the Second but claimed only to be the “editor” of the work. By 1847, he was able to purchase the copyright of many of his earlier works in order to reissue them. During this time, he was working on what would be his best novel, The Lancashire Witches. By the end of 1847, the plan of the novel was finished and the work was to be published in The Sunday Times.

In April 1872, a version of The Miser’s Daughter, called Hilda, was produced for the Adelphi Theatre by Andrew Halliday. On 6 April 1872, Cruikshank submitted a letter to The Times, claiming that he was upset about his name being left out of the credits for the play. Additionally, he claimed that the idea for the novel came from himself and not from Ainsworth. This provoked a controversy between the two.

His first success as a writer came with Rookwood in 1834, which features Dick Turpin as its leading character. In 1839 he published another novel featuring a highwayman, Jack Sheppard. From 1840 to 1842 he edited Bentley’s Miscellany, from 1842 to 1853, Ainsworth’s Magazine and subsequently The New Monthly Magazine.

His Lancashire novels cover altogether 400 years and include The Lancashire Witches, 1848, Mervyn Clitheroe, 1857, and The Leaguer of Lathom. Jack Sheppard, Guy Fawkes, 1841, Old St Paul’s, 1841, Windsor Castle, 1843, and The Lancashire Witches are regarded as his most successful novels. He was very popular in his lifetime and his novels sold in large numbers, but his reputation has not lasted well.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Rowlandson
13 July 1756 – 21 April 1827

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Thomas Rowlandson

Thomas Rowlandson was born in July 1756 in Old Jewry, in the City of London. His father, William, had been a weaver, but had moved into trading supplies for the textile industry and after overextending himself was declared bankrupt in 1759. Life became difficult for him in London and, in late 1759, he moved his family to Richmond, North Yorkshire. Thomas’ uncle James died in 1764, and his widow Jane probably provided both the funds and accommodation which allowed Thomas to attend school in London.
Rowlandson was educated at the school of Dr Barvis in Soho Square, then “an academy of some celebrity,” where one of his classmates was Richard Burke, son of the politician Edmund Burke. As a schoolboy, Rowlandson “drew humourous characters of his master and many of his scholars before he was ten years old,” covering the margins of his schoolbooks with his artwork.

In 1765 or 1766 he started at the Soho Academy. There is no documentary evidence that Rowlandson took drawing classes at the mainly business-oriented school, but it seems likely, as on leaving school in 1772, he became a student at the Royal Academy. According to his obituary of 22 April 1827 in The Gentlemen’s Magazine, Rowlandson was sent to Paris at the age of 16 (1772), and spent two years studying in a “drawing academy.” there. In Paris he studied drawing “the human figure” and continued developing his youthful skill in caricature. It was on his return to London that he took classes at the Royal Academy, then based at Somerset House.

Rowlandson spent six years studying at the Royal Academy, but about a third of this time was spent in Paris where he may have studied under Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. He later made frequent tours to the Continent, enriching his portfolios with numerous sketches of life and character. In 1775 he exhibited a drawing of Dalilah Payeth Sampson a Visit while in Prison at Gaza at the Royal Academy and two years later received a silver medal for a bas-relief figure. He was spoken of as a promising student; had he continued his early application he would have made his mark as a painter. On the death of his aunt, he inherited £7,000 with which he plunged into the dissipations of the town and was known to sit at the gaming-table for 36 hours at a stretch.

In time poverty overtook him; and the friendship and examples of James Gillray and Henry William Bunbury seem to have suggested caricature as a means of earning a living. His drawing of Vauxhall, shown in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1784, had been engraved by Pollard, and the print was a success.

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Rowlandson’s Vaux-Hall

Rowlandson was largely employed by Rudolph Ackermann, the art publisher, who in 1809—issued in his Poetical Magazine The Schoolmaster’s Tour—a series of plates with illustrative verses by Dr. William Combe. They were the most popular of the artist’s works. Again engraved by Rowlandson himself in 1812, and issued under the title of the Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, they had attained a fifth edition by 1813, and were followed in 1820 by Dr Syntax in Search of Consolation, and in 1821 by the Third Tour of Dr Syntax in Search of a Wife. He also produced a body of erotic prints and woodcuts.

The same collaboration of designer, author and publisher appeared in the English Dance of Death, issued in 1814–16 and in the Dance of Life, 1817. Rowlandson also illustrated Smollett, Goldsmith and Sterne, and his designs will be found in The Spirit of the Public Journals (1825), The English Spy (1825), and The Humorist (1831). He died in London, after a prolonged illness, on 21 April 1827.

Rowlandson’s designs were usually done in outline with the reed-pen, and delicately washed with colour. They were then etched by the artist on the copper, and afterwards aquatinted—usually by a professional engraver, the impressions being finally coloured by hand. As a designer he was characterized by his facility and ease of draughtsmanship. He dealt less frequently with politics than his fierce contemporary, Gillray, but commonly touching, in a rather gentle spirit, the various aspects and incidents of social life. His most artistic work is to be found among the more careful drawings of his earlier period; but even among the exaggerated caricature of his later time we find hints that this master of the humorous might have attained to the beautiful had he so willed.

His work included a personification of the United Kingdom named John Bull who was developed from about 1790 in conjunction with other British satirical artists such as Gillray and George Cruikshank.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Cruikshank
27 September 1792 – 1 February 1878

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George Cruikshank

Cruikshank was born in London. His father, Isaac Cruikshank, was one of the leading caricaturists of the late 1790s and Cruikshank started his career as his father’s apprentice and assistant.

His older brother, Isaac Robert, also followed in the family business as a caricaturist and illustrator. Cruikshank’s early work was caricature; but in 1823, at the age of 31, he started to focus on book illustration. He illustrated the first, 1823 English translation (by Edgar Taylor and David Jardine) of Grimms’ Fairy Tales published in two volumes as German Popular Stories.

On 16 October 1827, he married Mary Ann Walker (1807–1849). Two years after her death, on 7 March 1851, he married Eliza Widdison. The two lived at 263 Hampstead Road, North London.

Upon his death, it was discovered that Cruikshank had fathered 11 illegitimate children with a mistress named Adelaide Attree, his former servant, who lived close to where he lived with his wife. Adelaide was ostensibly married and had taken the married surname ‘Archibold’.

Cruikshank’s early career was renowned for his social caricatures of English life for popular publications.

He achieved early success collaborating with William Hone in his political satire The Political House That Jack Built (1819).

In the same year he produced the remarkable anti-abolitionist New Union Club. It satirised a dinner party organised by abolitionists with black guests.

His first major work was Pierce Egan’s Life in London (1821). This was followed by The Comic Almanack (1835–1853) and Omnibus (1842).

He gained notoriety with his political prints that attacked the royal family and leading politicians. In 1820 he received a royal bribe of £100 for a pledge “not to caricature His Majesty” (George IV of the United Kingdom) “in any immoral situation”. His work included a personification of England named John Bull who was developed from about 1790 in conjunction with other British satirical artists such as James Gillray, and Thomas Rowlandson.

Cruikshank replaced one of his major influences, James Gillray, as England’s most popular satirist. For a generation he delineated Tories, Whigs and Radicals impartially. Satirical material came to him from every public event – wars abroad, the enemies of Britain (he was highly patriotic), the frolic, among other qualities, such as the weird and terrible, in which he excelled. His hostility to enemies of Britain and a crude racism is evident in his illustrations commissioned to accompany William Maxwell’s History of the Irish rebellion in 1798 (1845) where his lurid depictions of incidents in the rebellion were characterised by the simian-like portrayal of Irish rebels. Among the other racially engaged works of Cruikshank there were caricatures about the “legal barbarities” of the Chinese, the subject given by his friend, Dr. W. Gourley, a participant in the ideological battle around the Arrow War, 1856–60.

For Charles Dickens, Cruikshank illustrated Sketches by Boz (1836), The Mudfog Papers (1837–38) and Oliver Twist (1838). Cruikshank even acted in Dickens’s amateur theatrical company.

On 30 December 1871 Cruikshank published a letter in The Times which claimed credit for much of the plot of Oliver Twist. The letter launched a fierce controversy around who created the work. Cruikshank was not the first Dickens illustrator to make such a claim. Robert Seymour who illustrated the Pickwick Papers suggested that the idea for that novel was originally his; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any specific input.

The friendship between Cruikshank and Dickens soured further when Cruikshank became a fanatical teetotaler in opposition to Dickens’s views of moderation.

In Somerset Maugham’s short story “Miss King”, Cruickshank’s influence is referenced: “She wore a large white cotton nightcap (on entering Ashenden has noticed the brown wig on a stand on the dressing-table) tied under the chin and a white voluminous nightdress that came high up in the neck. Nightcap and nightdress belonged to a past age and reminded you of Cruickshank’s illustrations to the novels of Charles Dickens.”

In the late 1840s, Cruikshank’s focus shifted from book illustration to an obsession with temperance and anti-smoking. Formerly a heavy drinker, he now supported, lectured to, and supplied illustrations for the National Temperance Society and the Total Abstinence Society, among others. The best known of these are The Bottle, 8 plates (1847), with its sequel, The Drunkard’s Children, 8 plates (1848), with the ambitious work, The Worship of Bacchus, published by subscription after the artist’s oil painting, now in the Tate Gallery, London. For his efforts he was made vice president of the National Temperance League in 1856.

When the invasion scare of 1859 led to the creation of the Volunteer Movement, Cruikshank was one of those who organised Rifle Volunteer Corps (RVCs). At first his unit was the 24th Surrey RVC, which recruited from working men who were total abstainers and was named ‘Havelock’s Own’ in honour of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, a hero of the Indian Mutiny and pioneer of Temperance Clubs in the army. However, Cruikshank received little encouragement from the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, and was rebuked for crossing into Kent to recruit. Disgusted, he disbanded his unit in 1862 and began anew in Middlesex, organising the 48th Middlesex RVC (Havelock’s Temperance Volunteers). The unit ran into financial difficulties and when Cruikshank was forced to retire due to age, he was replaced as commanding officer by Lt-Col Cuthbert Vickers, a wealthy shipowner. The 48th Middlesex merged with the 2nd City of London RVC, also a working-men’s unit, composed mainly of printers from the Fleet Street area, and the combined unit had a long history as the City of London Rifles.

After he developed palsy in later life, Cruikshank’s health and work began to decline in quality. He died on 1 February 1878 and was originally buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. In November 1878 his remains were exhumed and reburied in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Punch magazine, which presumably did not know of his large illegitimate family, said in its obituary: “There never was a purer, simpler, more straightforward or altogether more blameless man. His nature had something childlike in its transparency.”

In his lifetime he created nearly 10,000 prints, illustrations, and plates. There are collections of his works in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. A Royal Society of Arts blue plaque commemorates Cruikshank at 293 Hampstead Road in Camden Town.

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