Victorian Worthies

Victorian Worthies collects 50 of the very best caricatures of the leading figures of Victorian Britain from the pages of the original Vanity Fair magazine. The outstanding cartoons by the likes of ‘Ape’ and ‘Spy’ are accompanied, in the book, with vignettes by ‘Jehu Junior’ (editor Thomas Gibson Bowles), and a succinct modern-day biography by Malcolm Johnson.
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Gladstone appeared nine times in Vanity Fair and had just become PM when this cartoon was published in February 1869.  Editor, Jehu (Thomas Gibson Bowles), was a reluctant supporter, still he conceded that Gladstone had 'a fearless intellect', and 'a mind so vast as to be almost universal'.  Gladstone himself claimed to have read over 20,000 books, which enabled him to pronounce with great moral force on the political issues of the day.

Gladstone appeared nine times in Vanity Fair and had just become PM when this cartoon was published in February 1869. Editor, Jehu (Thomas Gibson Bowles), was a reluctant supporter, still he conceded that Gladstone had 'a fearless intellect', and 'a mind so vast as to be almost universal'. Gladstone himself claimed to have read over 20,000 books, which enabled him to pronounce with great moral force on the political issues of the day.

Spy's cartoon of future Cardinal, John Henry Newman, was published in Vanity Fair in 1877, along with a ringing endorsement: 'One of the greatest intellectual theologians England has ever produced.' Newman became Cardinal in 1879 until his death in 1890 as a result of pneumonia. Newman’s beatification was officially proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI on 19 September 2010 during his visit to the United Kingdom.

Spy's cartoon of future Cardinal, John Henry Newman, was published in Vanity Fair in 1877, along with a ringing endorsement: 'One of the greatest intellectual theologians England has ever produced.' Newman became Cardinal in 1879 until his death in 1890 as a result of pneumonia. Newman’s beatification was officially proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI on 19 September 2010 during his visit to the United Kingdom.

Benjamin 'Dizzy' Disraeli was the first cartoon to appear in Vanity Fair magazine in 1868. As a consequence of Disraeli's caricature, circulation soared to 2,500 from next to nothing.

Benjamin 'Dizzy' Disraeli was the first cartoon to appear in Vanity Fair magazine in As a consequence of Disraeli's caricature, circulation soared to from next to nothing.

'No kindlier, simpler, gentler, more upright and honourable a soul ever informed a human body', so said Vanity Fair of Quaker, Edmund Sturge, when he was caricatured in the magazine in November 1886. Sturge was Secretary for the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and a leading contemporary campaigner for human rights.

'No kindlier, simpler, gentler, more upright and honourable a soul ever informed a human body', so said Vanity Fair of Quaker, Edmund Sturge, when he was caricatured in the magazine in November 1886. Sturge was Secretary for the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, and a leading contemporary campaigner for human rights.

Vanity Fair were not too keen on the Earl of Derby, drawn here in 1869, describing him as 'a great orator, but essentially a juvenile ... far too removed by fortune to regard anything seriously'.  Still, Derby was PM for three brief periods in the 1850-60s, and his leadership of the Conservative Party remains the longest in history.

Earl of Derby

Mrs Star, a Mother Superior, was accused by (former) nun, Susan Saurin of assault in 1869.  The case caused a national furore.  In the end the judge found in Saurin's favour - she received an out of court settlement of £500 (£47,000 in today's money).

Mrs Star, a Mother Superior, was accused by (former) nun, Susan Saurin of assault in The case caused a national furore. In the end the judge found in Saurin's favour - she received an out of court settlement of in today's money).

Samuel Wilberforce, whose caricature appeared in Vanity Fair magazine in 1869, with the caption 'not a brawler'.

Samuel Wilberforce, whose caricature appeared in Vanity Fair magazine in with the caption 'not a brawler'.

Dubbed 'The Christian Martyr', Vanity Fair's cartoonist 'Spy' wanted to sketch Revd Arthur Tooth, but how could he get into Holloway Gaol where Tooth was incumbent after violating the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874? 'A glory to his friends and a gigantic difficulty to his foes', following his spell in prison, Tooth left the priesthood and moved to Croydon where he ran a school for orphan boys. He died on 5 March 1931.

Dubbed 'The Christian Martyr', Vanity Fair's cartoonist 'Spy' wanted to sketch Revd Arthur Tooth, but how could he get into Holloway Gaol where Tooth was incumbent after violating the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874? 'A glory to his friends and a gigantic difficulty to his foes', following his spell in prison, Tooth left the priesthood and moved to Croydon where he ran a school for orphan boys. He died on 5 March 1931.

'He can write and he can fight', wrote Vanity Fair of the young Winston Churchill, drawn here in 1900, even if Churchill at the time wrote to his mother: 'really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me much better'. Later, in his declining years and in the twilight of an illustrious, often tempestuous career, through which his faith remained, he mused when asked about death: 'I am ready to meet my Maker; whether He is ready to meet me is another matter'.

'He can write and he can fight', wrote Vanity Fair of the young Winston Churchill, drawn here in 1900, even if Churchill at the time wrote to his mother: 'really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me much better'. Later, in his declining years and in the twilight of an illustrious, often tempestuous career, through which his faith remained, he mused when asked about death: 'I am ready to meet my Maker; whether He is ready to meet me is another matter'.

The Revd Frank Gillingham, drawn here in his cricketing whites, was among other things the BBC's first ball-by-ball commentator on the sport. Gillingham's reputation as a fine preacher was significant in earning him this position. However, his cricket commentating career never took off and was largely met with indifference until it ended after infuriating Lord Reith, BBC Director General, by filling time during a rain break at The Oval reading from advertisements scattered around the ground.

The Revd Frank Gillingham, drawn here in his cricketing whites, was among other things the BBC's first ball-by-ball commentator on the sport. Gillingham's reputation as a fine preacher was significant in earning him this position. However, his cricket commentating career never took off and was largely met with indifference until it ended after infuriating Lord Reith, BBC Director General, by filling time during a rain break at The Oval reading from advertisements scattered around the ground.

'Mr Trollope is a student and delineator of costume rather than humanity'.  So began Vanity Fair's autobiographical vignette accompanying this 1873 cartoon, before adding that Trollope was 'not a great thinker'. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the caricature appeared, Trollope was furious and wrote the magazine a 'stiff letter'. Trollope, of course, became famous for his prolific output -  it is said he would finish a novel and start another almost in the same stroke of his pen.

'Mr Trollope is a student and delineator of costume rather than humanity'. So began Vanity Fair's autobiographical vignette accompanying this 1873 cartoon, before adding that Trollope was 'not a great thinker'. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the caricature appeared, Trollope was furious and wrote the magazine a 'stiff letter'. Trollope, of course, became famous for his prolific output - it is said he would finish a novel and start another almost in the same stroke of his pen.

Victoria appeared only once in Vanity Fair and the occasion was her Diamond Jubilee. Jean Baptiste Guth portrays her as an old lady – tired, in decline but still a considerable character. She was visiting Cimiez near Nice in the south of France.  Editor, Jehu (Thomas Gibson Bowles) provided a somewhat sycophantic accompanying vignette, claiming Victoria: 'has constantly proved herself a greater Sovereign than Elizabeth: wiser, gentler, nobler, under harder conditions.'

Vanity Fair Caricature of Queen Victoria ♔ Her Majesty The Queen-Empress. Caption: 'A Cimiez' (Promenade Matinale)

Alfred Lord Tennyson's Vanity Fair entry of 1871 begins thus: 'It has become fashionable to doubt his genius and to deprecate his works but he remains unquestionably what the public voice has long pronounced him, the first poet of our day. His songs go straight to the hearts of the most homely. The mere mention of his name awakens in every Englishman an echo of sweet sounds gently rippled into flowing verse.' ... And still to this day.

Alfred Lord Tennyson's Vanity Fair entry of 1871 begins thus: 'It has become fashionable to doubt his genius and to deprecate his works but he remains unquestionably what the public voice has long pronounced him, the first poet of our day. His songs go straight to the hearts of the most homely. The mere mention of his name awakens in every Englishman an echo of sweet sounds gently rippled into flowing verse.' ... And still to this day.

Back in 1837, Lady Angela (depicted here by Vanity Fair in 1883) became the wealthiest woman in England, inheriting £3 million (£252 million today).  However, she was immensely generous, giving much of her personal fortune to charity, often advised by Charles Dickens.  In return, she earned a peerage for her philanthropy from Queen Victoria.

Back in 1837, Lady Angela (depicted here by Vanity Fair in 1883) became the wealthiest woman in England, inheriting £3 million (£252 million today). However, she was immensely generous, giving much of her personal fortune to charity, often advised by Charles Dickens. In return, she earned a peerage for her philanthropy from Queen Victoria.

Revd Charles Old Goodford, 'Old Goody', was former Eton Head Master.  Indeed, Spy, who drew Goodford for Vanity Fair in 1876, had been a small boy in the school under Goodford’s headship, and later considered his portrait of him ‘one of my best early caricatures’. He stalked him in Eton High Street, but Goodford protested that he never carried an umbrella in this way. However, he later saw his reflection in a shop window and with astonishment told his wife ‘Spy was right after all’.

Revd Charles Old Goodford, 'Old Goody', was former Eton Head Master. Indeed, Spy, who drew Goodford for Vanity Fair in 1876, had been a small boy in the school under Goodford’s headship, and later considered his portrait of him ‘one of my best early caricatures’. He stalked him in Eton High Street, but Goodford protested that he never carried an umbrella in this way. However, he later saw his reflection in a shop window and with astonishment told his wife ‘Spy was right after all’.

Robert Baden-Powell, or 'BP', as he became known, founded the Boy Scouts.  Perhaps he, more than anyone - as Vanity Fair put it in 1900, when his caricature was published -  'grasped the trite old saying that ‘the boy is the father of the man’.

Robert Baden-Powell, or 'BP', as he became known, founded the Boy Scouts. Perhaps he, more than anyone - as Vanity Fair put it in when his caricature was published - 'grasped the trite old saying that ‘the boy is the father of the man’.

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