Sometimes the pictures for
the page atone, And the text is saved by
beauties not its own. (Tredwell
To extra-illustrate, or “grangerize,” is to
add images to a book that, in its original state, lacks them. Or, better said, was
to add: a genteel, eccentric, and very popular post-Enlightenment leisured
pastime, grangerizing, and the persons who once were its avid practitioners,
have been nearly forgotten. Perhaps this is because what they did now seems so
very odd to twenty-first century tastes. These hobbyists (whose personal
letters, published lectures, and articles in nineteenth-century bibliophilic
periodicals chronicle their extraordinary passion for their avocation) cut
printed books out of their original bindings, inserted between those loosened
pages prints—and later, other artifacts—from their collections, and then
rebound and renamed them. In this way extra-illustration could transform a
mass-produced text into a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted, luxury object. It was
based upon the premise that published books—those broadly-dispersed delivery
systems for an author’s words—could be refashioned into a connoisseur’s private
Driven by a passion for collecting and
organizing rather than a desire to read and understand, extra-illustration
offers an intriguing take on the industrious, acquisitive, and sometimes
destructive obsessions of the Victorians.
To an extra-illustrator, words served as registers of items, not as
signifiers of ideas. “Don’t allow yourself to read, or you will get
interested and surely omit entries you should make,” warned the author of “How
To Set About Extra-Illustrating a Book,” an essay in The Book Lover, an
American monthly aimed at bibliophiles (9). The admonition reminds us that a
love of books is not necessarily a love of reading.
The idea that any page of Shakespeare would
require “atonement” of the sort described above (and in such bad doggerel
verse) might surprise and even dismay us. We would not be alone:
extra-illustration has been mostly overlooked by literary scholars, and the
relative few who have treated it tend to evaluate it using theories of
collecting or art history rather than of books, reading, or reception. But like
medieval manuscript illumination, extra-illustration could take on the
qualities of an interpretive art, and many an extra-illustrator put the purely
acquisitive and precisely technical aspects of the practice—the meticulous
cutting and pasting; the relentless collecting—to the task of paratextual
This achievement can be traced in the
extra-illustrated Shakespeares of the period, which offer particularly fine
examples of textual commentary alongside the usual beauties of pictorial
enhancement. In this essay, I will give an overview of the history and practice
of grangerizing, pointing out that its complex reading, binding, and
visualization practices were interpretive strategies. I will go on to
demonstrate this claim by considering the extra-illustration of two Shakespeare
sets dating from the mid nineteenth and turn of the twentieth century—the
period that witnessed, interestingly, the waning and end of the practice
altogether. Singular they may be, but the Huntington Library’s 1850s “Adlard
Shakespeare” and the Scripps College Denison Library’s 1901 “Henley
Shakespeare” nonetheless shed light on Shakespeare reception and performance in
post-revolutionary England and America.
allowed fashionable people to showcase their private collections of print
portraiture. Starting with a book on a topic of interest, the hobbyist would
haunt print stalls and consult art dealers, collecting as many prints,
engravings, drawings, and paintings as might serve to illustrate it. In the
late eighteenth century, extra-illustration was called “grangerizing,” in
tribute to its first great public advocate, the Reverend James Granger, an
otherwise undistinguished English cleric who avidly collected printed
images—not of martyrs, theologians, or biblical patriarchs, but of monarchs and
statesmen. Like others in his circle (most notably, Horace Walpole), Granger
also liked to collect engravings of “characters,” those portraits, quite popular
in the eighteenth century, of nameless “types”: A London Flower-Seller; A
Poor Woman; An Aged Rabbi. Granger and his friends engaged in friendly,
lively epistolary competition and exchange, trading engravings and putting them
on private display.
Granger decided to organize their efforts by means of an innovative device: an un-illustrated
book, one that would be equipped with lists of prints and blank pages for
notation. In 1769, Thomas Davies published Granger’s The Biographical History
of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution…Adapted to a Methodological
Catalogue of Engraved British Heads. An exhaustive catalogue that ran to
four volumes, the Biographical History was little more than a list of
extant portrait engravings. Attached under each of these “heads” were succinct
biographies made up of little more than anecdotes and character analyses:
sketches of another sort. Early purchasers of Granger’s Biographical History
were meant to use the catalogue as mere check-list, but more ambitious
grangerizers soon began pasting portraits directly onto its blank pages and,
after that, inserting them between its excised and rebound pages.
Like all hobbies, collecting walks a thin
line between gentle pastime and fierce obsession. The quest could become
all-consuming all too quickly, and all too often. It soon captivated the
leisured classes of America. In a talk given to the Rembrandt Club of Brooklyn,
a late nineteenth century enthusiast named Daniel Tredwell (whose bad verse
opened this essay) vividly described a typical grangerizer’s progress:
Suppose we are in possession of…a sketch of
the life of Edward Everett. Before sending it to the binder it occurs to us
that it would be interesting and enhance its value to have a faithful portrait
of Edward Everett as a frontispiece – a testimonial of our regard for this
accomplished gentleman and scholar…We are by this time becoming interested in
the pursuit, and beginning to feel we are no longer amateurs…so we go on
getting prints…developing unconsciously an enthusiasm for our work, until we
have twenty-seven engraved portraits of Edward Everett, illustrating his life
from the age of sixteen to sixty…we want them, and we buy them. (Tredwell 34-36)
being both particular and fleeting, here we may pause to recall, possibly with
some effort, that Mr. Everett was a senator from Massachusetts and President of
Harvard University in the mid-nineteenth century.) Tredwell went on to explain
that this personal run on Everett portraits would invariably inspire the
illustrator to broaden his ambitions: he would go on to locate and purchase,
not only pictures of the gentleman himself at every age, but also pictures of
the gentleman’s birthplace, his family, his extended family, his library, and
his circle of friends.
Having proved himself in this part of the
venture a bona-fide expert in Everettiana, Tredwell’s imaginary grangerizer
would then turn to handicrafts, using a specially designed knife to trim the
illustrations and rice flour paste to affix the prints to single sheets of one,
uniform size. He would excise the pages of the original Life of Everett
from their original binding and paste them onto sheets in the same size.
(Depending on the overall size, engravings could also be inserted, with or
without folding, directly into this newly created book.) Finally, he was ready
to insert the prints at the appropriate places: where the original biographer
had mentioned Edward Everett, his home, his library, his friends or anything,
really, in passing (39).
extraneous aspect of extra-illustration—the willingness of the grangerizer to
expand on even the most insignificant detail of a written text with visual
images—was the practice’s most characteristic (and infamous) feature. For this
expansion was, most spectacularly and substantially, physical: the worthy
Everett grew in height and girth, his one-book life now requiring multiple
volumes of visual depiction. And so, an unremarkable quarto was transmogrified
into something extraordinary, unique and very, very large. Such transformations
merited new designations in addition to shelf space; check the spines and you
find the extra-illustrator’s name has often taken pride of place over that of
the original’s author.
The system Granger originally described as “reduction” (for
its capacity to sum up a life at a single glance) soon inspired—as the
popularity of the extra-illustration grew, and as we see in Tredwell’s
invocation of the amplified Everett above—a number of extravagant expansions:
of successive editions of the Biographical History; of the market for
engraved “heads” and “types”; and, eventually and inevitably, of the market
price of such engravings. Would-be grangerizers consequently began to look to
other venues for print acquisition, purchasing already-illustrated books for
the sole purpose of raiding them and excising their pictures, and adding these
pictures to their collections. The price of those books then also rose
accordingly. The literary genres deemed suited to extra-illustration also
expanded, and soon encompassed travel narratives and geographical studies of
foreign and domestic lands; religious works and sacred texts (especially the
Bible); natural sciences and natural histories; memoirs of the theatre (a brisk
trade in portraits that named not only the player but identified him or her
with a stage character was soon established in the London print stalls); and
literary works, including, of course, Shakespeare’s.
Based as the practice of “extra illustration” was in the idea
that a book could be made over into a capacious and almost-infinitely
expandable vehicle for the acquisition, preservation, and storage of a large,
ever-increasing collection, it is perhaps unsurprising that the range of what could
be considered “extra-illustrated” also expanded. Given the roomy definition—adding
pictures to books—texts un-excised but illustrated in the margins with
watercolor or oils also began to manifest in library lists as
“extra-illustrated” volumes. By the middle of the nineteenth century, in fact,
it had become commonplace to extra-illustrate not only by such direct
illumination, or with engravings purchased from the print stall and pictures
excised from other, less fortunate tomes, but also with a variety of pasted-,
tipped-, or bound-in artifacts: ticket stubs, newspaper clippings, formal
invitations, manuscript letters, booksellers’ bills of sale, and photographs.
And so, in becoming spectacular receptacles for all manner of visual inventory,
these “illuminated palaces” (to quote the besotted Tredwell) (34) would seem to
have long lost their identity as books meant simply to be read. Captivated by
their unique beauties, and the wonders of late nineteenth century print
advertising, other collectors purchased already extra-illustrated volumes from
rare book sellers and private owners; twentieth century booksellers’ catalogs
testify to the brisk but fleeting nature of the trade.
Now virtually unknown and un-consulted,
extra-illustrated books take up impressive amounts of space on the shelves of
most research and many private libraries, dusty testaments to the odd allure of
a passing book-fancy. They first catch our eye by the scale of their ambition.
Turning the outsized pages of a Biographical History, a Life of
Everett, or The Works of Shakespeare, we grasp at the outsized
desires of the past: to acquire a complete collection of engraved portraiture;
to excise, mount, and place engravings into pages with precision and
artfulness; to gild the printed page and rebind its exteriors and, in so doing,
make any book over into something personal, remarkable, and entirely,
audaciously unique. In this alone, grangerized works have much to teach us
about the era in which they thrived: an age wherein books, finally made cheap
and readily available by the wonders of mass production, were reconceived and
repurposed as the singularly luxurious tributes to wealthy owners they had once
been in the past.
But extra-illustrated books also have much to teach us about
past practices of reading, interpretation, and reception and this is where we
owe a debt of gratitude to the grangerized works of William Shakespeare that
flourished in the nineteenth century. These works represent characteristic, if
individual, approaches to textual interpretation. Grangerizing was, after all,
an expansive and thus inherently exegetical act: one that located meaning in
the relation between words; the mental images those words inspired, the created
pictures that made those words manifest; and, in the case of the plays, the
physical artifacts that accompanied these texts’ life on stage.
By the end of the nineteenth century we can discern two
dominant styles of extra-illustrating Shakespeare: the manner advocated by
Granger and its offshoots, and a more eclectic, “scrapbook” style that fully
emerged in the nineteenth century and seems to have enjoyed more popularity in
America than in Britain. This latter, artifactual style is occasional in
nature, linking the plays to the material modes of specific contemporary
productions, adding ticket stubs, programmes, posters, and other memorabilia to
reprints of the plays or to the memoirs of actors like Phelps or Garrick or
Siddons. As records of the material conditions of Shakespeare playing in
England and America they are an invaluable, and remarkably underutilized,
In the former style of grangerized Shakespeare, the “heads”
that grace the pages of the plays are rarely those of the playwright. However,
his characters, and the actors portraying these characters, reign supreme: Phelps
as Lear; Garrick as Hamlet; Mrs. Siddons as Lady Macbeth.
Figure 1: Samuel
Phelps, famously, as Macbeth on the Sadler's Well stage of 1850. From the
Denison Library of Scripps College's extra-illustrated Henley Shakespeare owned
by Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932). By permission of the Ella Strong Denison
Library, Scripps College.
Here we find all that is irrevocable and enduring in the
literary version of the plays linked both to the occasion of an actor’s
undertaking of the role and to more general styles of theatrical
representation. Real people become “types” when rendered into engravings of
actors, monarchs, and statesman; their postures and facial expressions not only
show us how any character was likely to have looked on stage at the time; they also
suggest that these depictions, which endured reproduction and which were
readily available, might have lastingly influenced later portrayals.
There are hundreds of extra-illustrated Shakespeares extant,
most of these dating from the nineteenth century and all of them worthy of new
study. But the extra-illustrated editions of Shakespeare housed in the
libraries established by two wealthy collectors who were both schooled in the
late Victorian age—Henry E. Huntington (who died in 1927 after founding the Huntington
Library in San Marino, California) and Ellen Browning Scripps (who died in 1932
after establishing a college for women in Claremont, California)—provide
particularly lovely examples of this characterized style of extra-illustration.
Ellen Browning Scripps Collection at the Denison Library at Scripps
College counts amongst its holdings a unique reworking of the “Henley
Shakespeare” of 1901-5. The original, a folio edition edited
by W. E. Henley, was published in Edinburgh and issued in
one thousand copies. The edition owned by Mrs. Scripps was already a special
one, limited to twenty-six lettered copies in what was called a “Connoisseurs’
Edition.” The Scripps set builds on this with exuberant and professionally-crafted
grangerizing. The volumes feature a large number of fine inserted engravings, some of
them hand colored, as well as direct on-page extra-illustration, art nouveau in
style, in watercolor. Their bindings, red goatskin with green watered-silk
end-papers and leaves, have front and back covers inlaid with delicately tinted
of Shakespeare’s heroines in gilded roundels.
The inside covers of Ellen Browning Scripps's "Henley Shakespeare"
featured girlish depictions of Shakespearean women, not all of them heroines:
this portrait depicts a young and beautiful Lady Macbeth. By permission of the
Ella Strong Denison Library, Scripps College.
What is particularly striking about this edition is in part
due to the late date of its extra-illustration: its added images represent the
latest versions of two centuries’ worth of reproduced characterizations and
stagings. The effect is one of uncanny familiarity: we recognize the faces and
postures and, if we are in a dreamy mood, marvel a bit whether Mr. Kean made
himself look so very much like Macbeth, or if instead Macbeth finally came to
resemble the long-dead Kean. The portraits thus implicitly make the argument
for Shakespeare as a playwright for the ages: they blur the lines between a
character’s representation on the written page and the conventions of that
character’s portrayal in the history of the stage, and animate those
conventions in a once-famous actor’s face and posture. Revisiting these
portraits, even as they appear in new, hand-tinted clothes, one feels as if,
say, the stage for the Macbeths’ crimes is always being reset: for tomorrow,
and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
The Huntington Library’s sixteen-volume “Adlard Shakespeare”
(London: 1853-63) has a title so characteristic of the tireless and
encyclopedic interests of the Victorians that it is worth printing in its
entirety: The Works of William Shakespeare, the text formed from a collation
of the early editions: to which are added all the original novels and tales on
which the plays are founded; copious archeological annotations on each play; an
essay on the formation of the text; and a life of the poet by James O.
Halliwell. The illustrations and wood-engravings by Frederick William Fairchild.
The set is evidence of three characteristic passions of the age: for
archiving, for organizing and for copious supplementation. We might say that
this set, even in its original pristinity, owes its expansive nature and claims
to the influence of a century of extra-illustration.
But the hand-painted marginal illustrations are what make the
Huntington “Adlard Shakespeare” eligible to be catalogued as
“extra-illustrated”—and delightfully, thought-provokingly unique. For example,
a page from A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream sports a hand-painted Puck that
conforms to Victorian norms of childish charm: a chubby, naked cherub tumbling
toward earth in a red-peaked jester’s cap that makes him appear less powerful
than simply cute and charming (vol. 5, part 1: 61). But on the following page,
next to Puck’s boast that he will “put a girdle round the earth,” we find
Oberon’s tiny minion making a call on a new-fangled instrument known as the
Puck girdles the earth in modern style in the Huntington Library's
extra-illustrated Adlard Shakespeare. By permission of the Huntington Library.
This is also charming in its seeming celebration of the
technological achievements of the nineteenth century; however and more
problematic, it yokes the image to Oberon’s magic. Placed against the text,
commenting on it, this image of Puck on the phone registers not simply a kind
of innocent wonder but also, perhaps, the anxiety that such power, in the end,
might have to be tamed and relinquished.
By the late nineteenth century, the art of “illustrating a
book with engravings torn out of other books” – was a pastime both in, and
nearly past, its prime (“Methods of Illustration” 133). We see this beautifully
demonstrated in two priceless library acquisitions of the early twentieth
century: the Huntington’s “Adlard Shakespeare,” extra-illustrated sometime
after 1860 and purchased by the Library in the 1920s, and Ellen Browning
Scripps’s “Henley Shakespeare,” left to the Denison Library as a founder’s gift
at her death in 1932. These are not simply collections of art and artifact
related to Shakespeare, however. In them we discern nineteenth-century readings
of Shakespeare that highlight and celebrate a sense of the author’s
timelessness, his encyclopedic range, his prescience, his capacity to animate
an otherwise generic humanity with singular character. In these sets, in other
words, we find the Shakespeare of the Victorians. And with that, we might also
concede, we have also found the source of the attitudes towards Shakespeare we
still hear advocated today.
 “I have
felt rather ashamed than exalted,” confided Mr. Tredwell to an audience
assembled to hear of his feats of extra-illustration, “by my weakness” (7).
 In this
section I have borrowed passages from my previous work on extra-illustrated
Bibles, The Bible and the People. I gratefully acknowledge the Yale
University Press for granting me permission to reprint sections of this
material in altered form.
 The best
description of their correspondence and acquisitive practices is Lucy Peltz’s.
“sketch,” as we will see below, means “brief written biography” (Tredwell
appears that until the latter years of this craze, a private extra-illustrator
was, almost always, male.
physical description comes from the director of the Denison Library and curator
of its extraordinary rare book collection, Judy Sahak.
Ferrell, Lori Anne. The Bible and the People. London:
Yale University Press, 2008. Print.
Granger, James. The Biographical History of
England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution… Adapted to a Methodological
Catalogue of Engraved British Heads. London: Thomas Davies,
“How To Set About Extra-Illustrating a Book.” The Book
Lover: A Monthly Journal 1.1 (1888):9. Print.
“Methods of Illustration.” The American Bookmaker (Nov.
1890): 133. Print.
Peltz, Lucy. “Engraved Portrait Heads and the
Rise of Extra-Illustration: the Eton Correspondence of the Revd James Granger
and Richard Bull, 1769-1774.” The Walpole Society 66 (2004): 1-161.
Shakespeare, William. The Works of William Shakespeare. Ed. W.
E. Henley. 10 vols. London: Grant Richards, 1901-04. Print.
---. The Works of William Shakespeare, the text formed
from a collation of the early editions: to which are added all the original novels
and tales on which the plays are founded; copious archeological annotations on
each play; an essay on the formation of the text; and a life of the poet by
James O. Halliwell. The illustrations and wood-engravings by Frederick William
Fairchild. 16 vols. London: Printed for the editor by J. E. Adlard,
1853-63. Print. Huntington copy: HEH RB 146076.
Tredwell, Daniel M. A Monograph on Privately-Illustrated
Books. A Plea for Bibliomania? Brooklyn, NY: printed for the Rembrandt Club
by F. Tredwell, 1881. Print.
Responses to this piece intended for the
Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editors at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.