The wood engravers' self-portrait

The Dalziel Archive and Victorian illustration

By Bethan Stevens

The wood engravers' self-portrait


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5665-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: June 2022
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory, LITERARY COLLECTIONS / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, DESIGN / Graphic Arts / Illustration, Biography: Arts & Entertainment, The arts / History of art & design styles: c 1800 to c 1900, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, Art History, Literature, Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900


The wood engravers' self-portrait tells the story of the image-making firm Dalziel Brothers, investigating and interpreting a unique archive from the British Museum. The study takes a creative-critical approach to illustration, alongside detailed investigation of print techniques and history. Five siblings ran the wood engraving firm Dalziel Brothers: George, Edward, Margaret, John and Thomas Dalziel. Prospering through five decades of work, Dalziel became the major capitalist image makers of Victorian Britain. This book, based on AHRC-funded research, outlines the achievements of these remarkable siblings and uncovers the histories of some of the 36 unknown artisan employees that worked alongside them. Dalziel Brothers made works of global importance: illustrations to Lewis Carroll's Alice books, novels by Charles Dickens, and landmark Pre-Raphaelite prints, as well as other, brilliant works that are published here for the first time since their initial creation.


Introduction Approaching engravings: medium and the parasite
1 A wordless memoir: the illustrator as archivist

Part I The Dalziel family and their 'woodpecker' employees, 1839-1893
2 'The print of [her] feet' (Wordsworth): the wood engravers' self portrait
3 Ruskin's sinisterity: disjointed hands and brains, and the division of art labour
4 Barnaby Rudge and 'the atmosphere of letters' (Craik): apprenticeship, education and employment
5 Ghostwriting the line of the other: Wilkie Collins's After Dark, and Dalziel's freelance engravers
6 'This midnight forger' (Trollope): signatures, authorship, and relations between engravers and draughtspeople

Part II Medium and technique at Dalziel Brothers
7 'Off with her head!' (Carroll): execution, technical violence, and the discipline of visual culture
8 'These many ingenious adaptations of photography' (Dalziel): photography and wood engraving, from Eadweard Muybridge to Julia Margaret Cameron
9 'A peculiar brilliancy of black' (DeVinne): the colour of monochrome, and Thomas Dalziel's The May Queen
10 Speed, print, news

11 Greedy rats


Bethan Stevens is a Senior Lecturer in English and Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Sussex

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