Welcome to the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery! Here you will find all the original illustrations to Charles Dickens's novels (and Sketches by Boz), where you are free to download, browse, share, remix, research, or use in whatever ways you can imagine. If you do use the images, please reference where you got them from. Something along the lines of 'Michael John Goodman, Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery, www.CharlesDickensIllustration.org', would be ideal. Or better yet, get in contact and tell me how you are planning on using the illustrations in your projects.
This website is very much a gallery, and I encourage users to consider each novel's page like a room in a gallery where they can quietly contemplate each image, read the name of its title, and enlarge the illustration to full-screen size. Obviously, the art of illustration is dependant on both words and images, but this site does not place Dickens's words alongside the illustrations in order that we may look closer at the images and celebrate them in their own right, without necessarily being overshadowed by Dickens's text. In many ways, it is a call-back to the print-shops and galleries of the nineteenth-century, where illustrated prints would often be placed in the windows of these establishments, tempting potential customers to buy the latest instalment of a novel. Similarly, If this website encourages users to read more Dickens (or to further explore the work of one of the artists), then it has done a very satisfactory job.
The idea for the gallery has been floating around my head for several years now, but the catalyst for making it a reality was during the Covid19 lockdown when reading an edition Oliver Twist that did not contain any of George Cruikshank's illustrations. I found another copy of the novel (I've accumulated quite a few over the years), and whilst this one did have illustrations, they were so poorly reproduced (and half of them were missing) that they were better off not being there at all. The world of Dickens illustration is beset with poor reproductions of the source material, so for this project I have searched out what I consider to be some of the best editions that feature the original illustrations printed to a decent quality. These are invariably from the early part of the 20th Century (original 19th Century first-editions being slightly out of my price-range), and include the 'Authentic Edition' (1901-06), and the 'Biographical Edition' (1902-03), both published by Chapman and Hall. Both editions reproduce the original illustrations very well and are the main editions used for the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery. Please be aware, though, that The 'Authentic Edition' features coloured frontispieces (which the original novels did not have) and the Gallery does not yet feature the original cover 'wrappings' for the serial instalments, but I will be looking to add them in the near future.
Every image in the archive has been digitised by hand to a good resolution (300 dpi) and is then tidied up in Photoshop, to remove foxing and ensure that the illustrations look as attractive as possible on modern screens (including mobile phones). As an indicative example, the images, below, are of Marcus Stone's illustration 'The Bird of Prey' from Our Mutual Friend, before and after it has been treated in Photoshop. I always use the analogy that this process is similar to how old albums from the 1960s are being remastered for modern technology: everything sounds a bit sharper, there's more clarity, and, generally, it's all a bit less murky.
I hope you find the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery a useful and valuable resource whatever you decide to do with it.
Michael John Goodman
Dr Michael John Goodman is an independent researcher, writer and educator who uses art and design as modes of enquiry to bring together objects and artefacts so that we may see them in new ways. He is the creator of the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive, an open-access online resource that contains over 3000 illustrations from the most significant illustrated Shakespeare editions in the Victorian period. His most recent project is 'Paint the Picture to the Word: Shakespeare Illustration & AI Art' and is available here.