Victorian Poetry Network "much to do with Victorian poetry"

Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration
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From time to time at VPN we plan to bring you news and information about digital tools that help with the teaching and research of Victorian poetry.

"A Dream"

Humphrey Gifford's Illustration to "A Dream", engraved by the Dalziel Brothers, from English Sacred Poetry (1862), p. 49 (DMVI ESP010)

One resource that I recently encountered is the Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration, based at Cardiff University, which provides searchable images of almost 900 literary illustrations published in and around 1862.

What makes the database particularly appealing to poetry scholars is the variety of sources used, such as periodical publications like Cornhill Magazine (1862-53), Good Words (1862) and Once a Week (1862-63), as well as book-length publications such as Favourite English Poems of Modern Times (1862), William Bennett’s Poems (1862) and Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862).

"Go and Come"

William Holman Hunt's Illustration to Dora Greenwell, "Go and Come", engraved by the Dalziel Brothers, Good Words 3, 1 (Jan 1862), p. 32 (DMVI GWP001)

Along with two search option of “keyword” and “advanced”, there’s also a very useful feature of browsing the iconography, which divides the images up into such fascinating categories as geography, settings (e.g. exteriors, interiors, weather, seasons), objects (e.g. transport and travel, cultural objects, food and drink), and themes (e.g. narrative themes, religion, society and culture). But even more useful for VPN readers is the ability to search specifically for the illustrations to poems in the database (through either the “order by” filter or, in advanced search, the “genre” filter). The images, 407 of which are illustrations to poetry, can be magnified and minutely examined through the application of the tool “zoomify”, an excellent feature of the database, which allows the wood engravers’ skills to be studied up close in high-quality resolution.

Although the database is very limited in its scope, the early 1860s was an important period for literary illustration, and the database does offer a rich selection of that period’s wood engraving.

(Thanks to Dr Julia Thomas, the Project Director of DMVI, for permission to reproduce images)

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