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Tennyson's publisher, illustrators and engravers

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - 1828-1882

Rossetti didn’t enter the inner circle of the Tennysons in the same way as Hunt and Millais did.  Rossetti first met Tennyson in 1855.  They were both at the Brownings’ house in October.  In a letter to William Allingham (quoted in Hallam;s Memoir Volume 1) Rossetti said ‘He is quite as glorious in his way as Browning in his, and perhaps of the two even more impressive on the whole personally’. 

John Everett Millais - 1829-1896

Like William Holman Hunt, Millais became a family friend of the Tennysons.  In May1854, he is visited by Moxon and Tennyson and agrees to visit Tennyson’s family home, Farringford, ‘in a month’s time and take little Hallam as an illustration of ‘Dora’.  He writes to Alfred on 24th August (letter 4015) ‘Some [having crossed out ‘Many’] questions I wish to ask you about the poems I am to illustrate…’ Emily’s journal entry for November 14th 1854, says ‘Mr Millais comes on the 22nd and is beguiled into sweeping up leaves & burning them in the intervals of making sketches of Hallam and myself.’

William Holman Hunt  - 1827-1910

Holman Hunt became good friends with the Tennyson family.  Having sent a present of tobacco to Tennyson in 1856, he was invited to stay for Christmas in 1857 and went on excursions with Alfred.  Emily Tennyson’s journal entry for June 23rd1858, says on Hunt’s arrival at their home, ‘He seems so good and great that one can dream oneself with an Artist of the olden time.  He races with the little Bradleys in the little cart & they & our boys have tea in the hay field.  A pretty sight they are.’  Like Millais, he seems to be prevailed upon to help with the gardening:   Her very next entry has ‘Mr Holman Hunt helps A. to trim the knee-feathers from the wreath of Elms over the sea view & to put a seat for me under the cedar.’  Hunt only leaves the following day.  Hunt’s two volumes of autobiography Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1905) are the source of much information about the Moxon book.

Edward Moxon  - 1801-1858

Tennyson joined Moxon’s list of poets for the publication of his 1832 volume.  It was savagely criticised in the press and Tennyson fell silent saying he would not be ‘dragged forward again in any shape before the reading public at present.’  The silence lasted ten years.  Moxon kept faith with his troubled poet.  He seems to have been the source of any moderate organisation in the years before his marriage.  He advanced Tennyson £300 for his wedding, sent him books on demand and provided much convivial support.

Daniel Maclise - 1806-1870

When Tennyson first heard of Moxon’s project, he wanted Maclise to be the principal illustrator.  He was an active Medievalist in the 1840s but he was painting murals in the House of Lords, so could only do two designs for Moxon.  The Pre-Raphaelites might have been called in to fill the Arthurian gap. Maclise produced all the illustrations to Tennysons The Princess in 1860.

John Horsley - 1817-1903

In May 1854, Moxon and Tennyson visits painters for the project.  In a letter to Emily written on May 18th, Tennyson calls Horsley ‘very amiable’ and afffects a casual tone’ Horsley said that I was the painter’s poet, etc,..). Like Maclise Horsley was selected to make frescoes for the House of Parliament, but managed to provide six designs for the Moxon book.  He is credited with the design of the very first Christmas card. 

William Mulready - 1786-1863

When Moxon andTennyson are visiting painters for the project in 1854, they see Mulready.  On May 18th 1854, in a letter to Emily, Tennyson describes Mulready as ‘an old man who was full of vivacity and showed me lots of his drawings and one or two of his pictures.’ At the 1857 Manchester Exhibition Emily reports in her journal entry for August 1st  that we ‘see Hunt’s pictures, Turner’s sketches & Mulready which please A. more than anything.’

William James Linton - 1812-1897

Wood engraver and Radical, Linton has been described as ‘that most independent spirited of Victorian engravers’ (Vaughan), who wrote poetry, natural history and politics.  His second wife was Eliza Lynn Linton the vigourous ant-feminist sensationalist novelist.  The marriage was short-lived, though they maintained an affectionate correspondence.  Linton sold his Lakeland home, Brantwood, to Ruskin and emigrated to the United States where he continued wood-engraving and edited magazines.  Walter Crane, was apprenticed to him.

Linton complained that the emphasis on ‘facsimile’ engraving in the 1860s – that is, engraving that reproduces every single line drawn by the artist – reduced the engraver to the level of a mere tool, leaving no room for interpretation.  The Moxon Tennyson had been in the forefront to this change from the ‘artist-engraver’.

The Dalziel Brothers - George Dalziel 1815-1902,   Edward Dalziel 1817-1905,  John Dalziel,  Thomas Dalziel 1823-1906

The Dalziels set up London’s largest and most influential wood-engraving firm.  They cut the illustrations to Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense (1862) and to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Rossetti famously criticized them for heavy hands but they maintained that Rossetti told them verbally and by letter that he was satisfied with their work.

John Thompson - 1785-1866

Thompson was trained by Thomas Bewick, the most famous engraver of the 18th century, who revived the art of wood-engraving.  William Linton worked with Thompson early in his career and learned to respect the traditions of the craft.

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Last updated: 7 March 2011

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