Monday, October 6, 2008

Jemmy's Life in London

The first monthly part of Pierce Egan’s “Life in London; or, the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq., and his elegant Friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis,” was published 15 July 1821, with illustrations by the brothers I. R. (Robert) and George Cruikshank.

Pierce Egan railed at the “Mob of Literary Pirates” who stole his idea and ran with it. One of these pirates was Jemmy Catnatch who published a broadsheet “Life in London; or, the Sprees of Tom and Jerry, attempted in cuts and verse” for street sale at two pence featuring twelve cuts. The illustrations were rough woodcut copies of the Cruikshanks’ illustrations. Denis Gifford, referring to the 11 by 15 Catnatch broadsheet, said it “strikes the eye as a perfect prototype comic.”

That prototype was copied in different form by Charles Hindley in “Life and Times of James Catnatch (late of Seven Dials), Ballad Monger” published in 1878. Hindley, who failed to find a copy in the British Museum, took the broadsheet on loan from the collection of Mr. Crawford John Pocock of Brighton and ran it over several pages of his “Life and Times.”

Egan later published a ““Finish” to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic,” again with the brothers Cruikshank’s illustrations. Within twelve hours Catnatch had a two penny edition being hawked on the streets. The cut at bottom was used by Hindley to illustrate Egan's feelings towards the literary pirates.

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