Saturday, November 21, 2009

Queen's Jester

Queen’s Jester

A review of caricaturist, author, and editor Louisa Henrietta Sheridan’s annual COMIC OFFERING published by Smith, Elder & Co., (11 November, 1832) > from Barnard Gregory‘s The Satirist; or, Censor of the Times (10 April, 1831- 15 December 1849.)

“Really, Miss Sheridan, you must, judging from this and your previous offerings at the shrine of the comic muse, be a most charming companion - that is, to all who can admire female wit, and who cannot? Miss Sheridan has claims above any other authoress in our language to the long-vacated office of king’s jester; or, as that appointment might not be compatible with her sex; it would be but a matter of justice to create a new one, and establish her in all the rights and immunities of queen’s jester. The Comic Offering is full of most agreeable conceits, fantastic humours, and care-killing recipes, dished up in a rich vein, and with a just perception of the ludicrous. It would be impossible for ennui to exist in the presence of this agreeable work which to all the breadth and satire of Hood adds the delicate colouring which so distinguishes the fascinating tittle-tattle of female society. Let our readers take our word for it, that the Comic Offering will do more to chase the blue devils from the winters fireside, than any other thing that can be brought to the task.”

Women caricaturists were not plentiful in Georgian and Victorian times but there were a few. There was Mary Darly, who engraved the prints of army officer George Townsend (1723-24-1807) who has been called “the first great English caricaturist,” and illustrator the first caricature printed in the Canadian colony. Marie Duval worked on “Ally Sloper” comic pages with her husband Charles Henry Ross, editor of the penny Judy; or, the London Serio-comic Journal beginning the 1st of May, 1867. The first number of The Girl of the Period Miscellany appeared in March 1869 (an expensive publication at 6d) with illustrations by Miss Claxton, a caricaturist. Comic Offering; or, Ladie’s Melange of Literary Mirth (1831-1835) was a yearly publication and Miss Sheridan shared the artistic duties with Robert Seymour, who lived a short and prolific life, contributing to numbers of publications, such as Figaro in London, The Pickwick Papers and nine numbers of Seymour’s Comic Scrap Sheet in 1839. There were five volumes of the Comic Offering.


  1. I just picked up an original edition of Comic Offering, volume 4, dated 1834. It's in quite good condition considering that it's over 175 years old. I found it at a Goodwill thrift store and paid $2 for it. Do you have any idea what it's worth today?

  2. Good question. I'm not too knowledgeable about pricing but have seen one antiquarian bookseller offering a copy for 30 USD and a French eBay copy asking 150,00 euros.

  3. Thanks. I just noticed that the book is actually signed by Robert Seymour to his dear wife Jane.

    Thanks again. Nice blog BTW.

  4. I was very interested in Ringo the Gringo's post about the signed copy he has of the Comic Offering. I am actually writing a book about Robert Seymour, and I would be very interested in hearing about this volume, as I have not come across any other signed Seymour volumes. For instance, does the volume contain a bookplate, or anything else written on it by Seymour, or any clues to the work's provenance? I have tried clicking on Ringo's name, but the link to his blog doesn't seem to work. I hope he will contact me on:
    If anyone is in touch with Ringo the Gringo, I hope they will point this post out to him.

    Best wishes

    Stephen Jarvis

  5. Stephen,
    Following the link I came to this page with a contact >
    Send me a copy of your Seymour book when done for a review.