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The late Mr. Hablot K. Browne

Hablot K. Browne

Readers who are old enough to remember the "Pickwick Papers" and "Nicholas Nickleby" when they first came out will have felt a regretful and grateful interest in the announcernent of the death of "Phiz"—Mr. Hablot K. Browne, the clever, humorous artist whose drawings helped the early writings of "Boz," hardly then known as Charles Dickens, to catch the fancy of a hundred thousand English men, women, and children all at once. The etchings on steel or copper plates designed by Hablot Browne, who was then not much above twenty years of age, were irresistibly droll and farcical, though he could not at any time come up to George Cruikshank in weird imaginative power in dealing with romantic or tragical subjects. We have a pleasing recollection of a set of little painted clay figures, some three or four inches high, reproductions of the "Phiz" designs for Mr. Pickwick, Sam Weller, Mr. Winkle, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and the other personages of that famous story. Charles Dickens gave them to his father, who used to be delighted to show them to visitors, it the little cottage at Alphington, near Exeter, more than forty years ago. There was a set of them at Gad's Hill, when the great novelist's household furniture and knicknacks were sold off. Copies of the original editions of his first stories, with the plates by "Phiz," are now seldom met with, but no other illustrations can ever be drawn which we should like so well. Hablot Browne, with George Cattermole, also designed the wood-engravings for "Master Humphrey's Clock" and "The Old Curiosity Shop." He returned to etching for "Martin Chuzzlewit," to which story he furnished some of his best work. The Irish, military, and sporting novels of Charles Lever, "Harry Lorrequer " and others, were indebted to this artist for similar assistance.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2256—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 29, 1882, p.122