"Punchification" Keeps Richard Doyle From his "Christmas Things"

Just a week before Christmas in 1843, the 19-year-old artist Richard Doyle wrote this illustrated letter to his father, playfully, but apologetically, putting off work that he had promised to finish before Christmas. He is in the midst of preparing his first contributions to the magazine Punch and wants to let his father know that "the nearer it becomes to Christmas the more awful does my situation, with regard to certain annual productions called "Christmas things" appear." Punch is seen here, somewhat maniacally bursting through the page.

John Ruskin's Puppet Show

John Ruskin was just ten years old when he wrote and illustrated The Puppet Show: Or, Amusing Characters for Children. The little book is filled with twenty-nine short poems, each of which is accompanied by two pen-and-ink drawings. The poems, as far as I can determine, are Ruskin's own, although some of the illustrations are copied from George Cruikshank's vignettes in Grimm's German Popular Stories, which was first published in London in 1823.

Charles Dickens's Letters

This blog features letters from Charles Dickens drawn from the Morgan's collection, which includes over 1,500 of his letters. The Morgan has the largest collection of Dickens's letters in the United States, surpassed in number only by the Dickens House Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. Posts will include images of Dickens letters with a complete transcription, and a brief commentary on content and context. A Letter from Charles Dickens will allow readers of the blog to discover for the first time—or renew their acquaintance with—Dickens's notable letters.

Jean Chenel

Jean Chenel, sieur de La Chappronnaye (fl. 1614-1617). Les revelations de l’hermite solitaire sur l’estat de la France. Paris: Toussaincts du Braÿ, 1617. Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2011.

Quicksilver Bob Invents the "highest blessing of the water"

Robert Fulton's steamboat first chugged up the Hudson River in August, 1807. The flat-bottomed boat, which was only 12 feet wide, was fitted with side wheels and powered by a coal-fired steam engine. It clocked an impressive 4 to 5 miles per hour against the current and made the 150-mile trip from New York to Albany in about 32 hours.

King John's 1205 Charter

King John, oh King John. Best remembered for signing the Magna Carta (after being forced by his barons to do so), losing most of England's territory on the continent (in a war triggered partially by his marriage to Isabelle of Angoulâme), and trying to seize the crown from his elder brother Richard the Lionheart (while Richard was being held captive by Duke Leopold of Austria), John's life and sixteen-year reign was violent and unpopular. The 13th-century chronicler Matthew Paris went so far as to declare "Hell is too good for a horrible person like him," although this general view has been somewhat tempered in the intervening 800 years.