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|Material Type:||Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript|
|Document Type:||Book, Archival Material|
|All Authors / Contributors:||
The introductory chapter examines the composition of the illustrated letter in which all four engage prior to illustrating their published fictions. The remaining chapters focus on each author's works. Thackeray uses pictures to develop themes essential to the text and to advance his ambiguity as narrator of Vanity Fair (1847-48) and The Rose and the Ring (1854). In both works he shares the responsibility of illustration with his fictional characters.
Carroll completes his characterization through illustration in Alice's Adventures Underground (1863). Carroll's drawings, although naive and anatomically incorrect in comparison to Tenniel's for the second version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), are arranged with words on a page to develop themes essential to the text.
Rossetti composes sonnets and paintings on the same subject and over time joins them together as a visual-verbal pair. In physically joining poem and painting within one frame (e.g. Proserpine (1873-83)), Rossetti illuminates the two-sided nature of intense experiences in life reflected in the art forms that attempt to represent them.
Potter's simple tales deserve critical attention because of the illustrations. The pictures in The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901) develop character and theme. Potter's fair copy for The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904) among others demonstrates that she writes in her sketches separate from her narrative as a composing heuristic to bring into being her narrative pictorial compositions.
Viewed collectively, these four author/illustrators use pictures for a range of essential functions in their fictions. This study aims not to suggest that pictures regularly be grafted onto literary forms other than children's literature and poetry, which today alone continue the Victorian illustrated tradition. Rather, this examination of self-illustrated fiction demonstrates the importance of keeping alive visual possibilities for contemporary texts.