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, (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.
Robert L. Patten, the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Humanities at Rice University, was born on April 26, 1939 in Oklahoma City. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1960. He went on to earn an M.A. (1962) and Ph.D. (1965) from Princeton University. After college, Patten lectured in English at Bryn Mawr College, leaving there in 1969 to take a position as Assistant Professor in the English Department at Rice University, where he became a full professor in 1976. In 1991 and 1992 Patten chaired Rice’s English Department. The author of dozens of articles and reviews on nineteenth-century British literature, Patten used the materials in this collection to write a two-volume biography of George Cruikshank, entitled George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art (vol. 1, 1992; vol. 2, 1996). In 1999 The Guardian, a British newspaper, called Patten’s biography one of the best books of the 1990s.
Robert L. Patten was a Fulbright Scholar from 1963 to 1964 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 1980. He was also chosen as a Couper Scholar in 2004, served as president of the Rice University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa from 1991 to 1994 and 1997 to 2002, and chaired the Dickens Society in 1973 and 1974. Patten has served in numerous capacities at Rice University, including the Sallyport Award Committee (1986-87), the Advisory Committee on Parking (1992-94), and the University Review Board (1982-84). In addition to George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art, Patten is the author of Charles Dickens and His Publishers (1978), and editor of George Cruikshank: A Revaluation (1974) and Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices (1995). He also serves as editor of Studies in English Literature and founded and briefly edited the periodical Dickens Studies Newsletter .
From the guide to the Robert L. Patten: George Cruikshank research materials MS 493., 1792-2002, (Woodson Research Center, )