John Doyle was a portrait painter and political cartoonist; he published hundreds of sketches of political figures under the pseudonym "HB" over the course of his career. Richard, Henry, and Charles all pursued careers in the arts: Richard became an artist and illustrator, best known for designing the cover of Punch; Henry was a portrait painter and museum director for the National Gallery of Ireland; and Charles was a draftsman and illustrator (as well as the father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
The letters in this collection were produced as part of a weekly assignment: starting in July 1842, the Doyle brothers were required to write a letter each week, describing their activities, reflecting critically on art, music, literature, and public events, and illustrating from memory the scenes and events they described. For more on the context and composition of the letters, see The Illustrated Letters of Richard Doyle to His Father, 1842-1843, pp. 7-11. Items in the collection have been described individually in separate catalog records; see related records for more information.