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There’s no Bah Humbug this Christmas for pupils at illustration workshop

In the lead up to Christmas, a group of school pupils attended a workshop exploring the illustrations in Charles Dickens' much-loved festive tale A Christmas Carol with a Roehampton historical illustration expert.

Posted: 16 December 2015

The pupils, who were all from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, discussed with Dr Mary L. Shannon from the Department of English and Creative Writing, the relationship between Victorian text and images.

Using the example of A Christmas Carol, each pupil was given passages from the novel and was tasked with picking out parts of the text they considered important to illustrate.

  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop
  • Mary Shannon workshop

Mary L Shannon and pupils at work creating their drawings of Scrooge at the House of Illustration gallery

They were then shown different artists' depictions of Ebenezer Scrooge, the cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas in the novel, including drawings from John Leech, the artist who illustrated the original pictures in the book, as well as from Sol Eytinge and Frederick Barnard.

After a group discussion on what they liked and disliked about the images, what they would do differently, and how each illustration picked out different aspects of Scrooge's character, the pupils worked with a professional illustrator from the House of Illustration gallery, to sketch their own Scrooge. Later in the day they used images of original Victorian engravings to create a composite illustration, which depict the changes in Scrooge's character over the course of the story.

Dr Shannon is an expert on 19th century print and visual culture, with a particular interest in Dickens and London. Her new book Dickens, Reynolds and Mayhew on Wellington Street: The Print Culture of a Victorian Street, explores, among other things, the importance of illustrations to the Victorians' experience of reading Dickens's novels, and to the theatrical adaptations of those novels.

The House of Illustration is founded by Sir Quentin Blake and it is UK's only public gallery dedicated solely to illustration.

Roehampton is ranked in the top three London universities for English and Creative Writing according to the Guardian University Guide 2016.

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