Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Comic History of England

The Landing of Julius CaesarThe Landing of Julius Caesar

The Bowling Out of the DruidsThe Bowling Out of the Druids

William the Conqueror Inspecting the VolunteersWilliam the Conqueror Inspecting the
Volunteers Previous to the Invasion of England

Terrific Combat between Richard Coeur de Lion and SaladinTerrific Combat between Richard Coeur de Lion and Saladin

King John Signing Magna CartaKing John Signing Magna Carta

Queen Philippa Interceding with Richard IIIQueen Philippa Interceding with Richard III for the Six Burgesses of Calais

Thomas of Rokeby Receiving the Honour of KnighthoodThomas of Rokeby Receiving the Honour of Knighthood

Edward's Arm in the Hands of his Medical AdvisorsEdward's Arm in the Hands of his Medical Advisors

Coronation of Henry IVCoronation of Henry IV (from the Best Authorities)

Embarkation of Henry VEmbarkation of Henry V at Southampton, AD 1415

Comic History of Rome - Lettrine

Marriage of Henry VI with Margaret of AnjouMarriage of Henry VI with Margaret of Anjou

The Battle of Bosworth FieldThe Battle of Bosworth Field - A Scene from the Great Drama of History

The Duke of Gloucester goes into MourningThe Duke of Gloucester goes into Mourning for his Little Nephews

Henry VIII and his QueenHenry VIII and his Queen 'Out A-Maying'

Henry VIII Monk HuntingHenry VIII Monk Hunting

Vignettes - The times of Egbert and Caesar

Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter RaleighQueen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh

Cromwell dissolving the Long Parliament'Take Away that Bauble' Cromwell dissolving the Long Parliament

2 satirical lettrines

Discovery of Guy FawkesDiscovery of Guido Fawkes by Suffolk and Monteagle

Evening Party - Time of Charles IIEvening Party - Time of Charles II

Leech caricature lettrines

The Battle of the BoyneThe Battle of the Boyne

Georgey Porgey the First and coachGeorgey Porgey the First Going out for a Ride in his State Coachy Poachy

[click images for enlarged versions]
"In commencing this work, the object of the Author was, as he stated in the Prospectus, to blend amusement with instruction, by serving up, in as palatable a shape as he could, the facts of English History. He pledged himself not to sacrifice the substance to the seasoning; and though he has certainly been a little free in the use of his sauce, he hopes that he has not produced a mere hash on the present occasion. His object has been to furnish something which may be allowed to take its place as a standing at the library table, and which, though light, may not be found devoid of nutriment." [Preface]
'The Comic History of England' (1847-1848) was a 2-volume collaborative effort by Punch Magazine contributors Gilbert Abbott À'Beckett (text) and John Leech (20 hand coloured steel plate engravings together with ~200 woodcut vignettes).

The only version online I could locate is available at Carnegie Mellon University's Posner Library. As much as I'm grateful for Posner's excellent stock of digital books, it is a slog and a half progressing page by page through these works with no thumbnail images. Even if you choose a small page format, it actually loads from the large version. Fortunately the coloured illustration index is numbered for the second volume -- both volumes are contained back to back in the single site (that's about 600 pages in total).

'The Comic History of England' was followed within a few years by 'The Comic History of Rome', the subject of a previous post, which has some more background details. One particular link in that entry worth repeating is: 'John Leech Sketch Archives from Punch'.

UPDATE: A black & white version of 'The Comic History of England' (from the University of Toronto) is available in various formats from the Internet Archive {thanks Brent!}.


miriam sawyer said...

I love it.

Andrew said...

A fully transcribed version with images has just been posted to Project Gutenberg.

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