Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Cruikshank, George

(1792-1878) Influential UK political cartoonist and illustrator, some of whose many satirical prints of life in the reign of George IV were directly responsible for political reforms. He had a cutting wit and a great skill in caricaturing leading figures in political and court life. He continued the tradition of William Hogarth (1697-1764), Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) and James Gillray (1757-1815), but was less crude.

GC did much work in partnership with W Harrison Ainsworth, his illustrations effectively capturing the fantasy-of-history that Ainsworth sought to achieve. GC split with Ainsworth in 1842 after claiming that Ainsworth was using GC's plot suggestions without credit.

GC illustrated the first UK edition of the Grimm Brothers' German Popular Stories (coll 1823 UK; second vol coll 1826 UK), and thereafter his work became closely associated with Fairytales. After his conversion to teetotalism in the late 1840s GC used the fairytale to promote his own ideas of moral rectitude and thus severely edited traditional tales into the form we know now. His Fairy Library series comprised Hop o' My Thumb and the Seven League Boots (1853 chap); The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk (1854 chap); Cinderella and the Glass Slipper (1854 chap), notorious for its exaggeration of Charles Dickens's prophetic parody of GC in "Frauds on the Fairies" (1853 Household Words), consisting of a Cinderella story in the crushingly didactic style of GC; and Puss in Boots (1864 chap). They were collected in George Cruikshank's Fairy Library (omni 1865), which also contains GC's response to Dickens: A Letter from Hop-o'-my-Thumb to Charles Dickens, Esq. Upon "Frauds on the Fairies," "Whole Hogs," Etc (1854 George Cruikshank's Magazine; 1854 chap). These heavily rewritten versions annoyed traditionalists like Charles Dickens but found favour among the pious.

GC illus over 860 books, many of them Supernatural Fiction. A selection, alphabetically by author: Richard Harris Barham's Ingoldsby Legends (1840-1847) with John Leech; Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone (trans John Edward Taylor 1848); Cervantes's Don Quixote (1831); Julian A Ewing, The Brownies and Other Tales (coll 1871) and Lob Lie-by-the Fire, or the Luck of Lingborough (1874); Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb, dramatized by Kane O'Hara (1830); E G Flight's The True Legend of St Dunstan and the Devil (1848); Victor Hugo's Hans of Iceland (trans anon 1825); W B Rhodes's Bombastes Furioso (1830), play; Twelve Sketches illustrative of Sir Walter Scott's Demonology and Witchcraft (1830); Egerton Smith's The Elysium of Animals: A Dream (1836). [RT/MA/JC]

George Cruikshank


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.