Thursday, August 5, 2021

Early London Detective Fiction and Police News


by John Adcock

The Victorian era detective story began with the publication in the April 1841 issue of Graham's Magazine of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue which gave the author a Parisian reputation.Poe’s popular volume Tales of the Grotesque spread the story throughout Europe. Dickens introduced the first private eye in English literature in 1843, Mr. Nadgett, in Martin Chuzzlewit. Angus B. Reach featured a detective as a character in Clement Lorimer: or, The Book with the Iron Clasps: A Romance, published by D. Bogue in 1849 with illustrations by George Cruikshank. Dickens Bleak House, first published as a serial between March 1852 and September 1853, marked the arrival of the first police procedural hero, as well as the first calling together of all the suspects in a murder for the unravelling of a crime. [Bill Blackbeard in a post on the now defunct Yahoo group Bloods & Dime Novels.]

Charles Dickens was the first author to experiment with monthly instalments of his three-volume novels, and the first to begin issuing weekly instalments in All the Year Round. On April 30, 1859, A Tale of Two Cities, In Three Books, commenced serialization in All the Year Round. The Woman in White, “a continuous original work of fiction” by Wilkie Collins began serialization in All the Year Round on Nov 23, 1859. Great Expectations was announced on November 3, 1860, it was “to be continued from week to week until completed in about eight months.”  The Times review of Great Expectations labelled these weekly instalments “a great experiment”

The first of these fictions which achieved a decided success was that of Mr. Wilkie Collins — The Woman in White. It was read with avidity by hosts of weekly readers, and the momentum which it acquired when published in fragments carried it through several large editions when published as a whole.[i]

Dickens and Collins successes with sensational serials in literary magazines, usually connected with penny and halfpenny journals, led to sensation novels, books and serials calculated to entice a market on the move. Railway libraries, cheap books such as The Travellers’ Library, The Parlour Library, and The Popular Library, came into being in the 1850s to satisfy the demand for light railway reading. Men, women and children bought reading material to leaf through on long train rides, or when waiting in line for admittance to restaurants and clubs. Continuous serials attracted a traveling audience and so were designed to build a weekly readership. The Times, again…

Lingering over the delineation of character and of manners, our novelists began to lose sight of the story and to avoid action. Periodical publication compelled them to a different course. They could not afford, like Scheherazade, to let the devourers of their tales go to sleep at the end of a chapter. As modern stories are intended not to set people to sleep, but to keep them awake, instead of the narrative breaking down into a soporific dullness, it was necessary that it should rise at the close into startling incident.

Fictional detectives began surfacing in yellow backs for railway reading in the 1860s. Recollections of a Detective Police Officer by “Waters” (William Russell) was the earliest of these detective fictions, first appearing in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal in 1849. It was then published between covers by J. & C. Brown in 1856, Kent in 1857,[iii] and finally by Charles H. Clarke on Dec 15, 1859. This was followed on October 16, 1860 by A Skeleton in Every House, More Mysteries by Waters, in Clarke’s The Parlour Library series whose copyright had been purchased in January from Darton & Co. The next was Tom Fox; or, The Revelations of a Detective, “Comprising Adventures, Disguises, Perils, Escapes, Captures, and Intrigues.” This was issued April 1860 by George Vickers with 158 engravings.

The author of Tom Fox; or, The Revelations of a Detective was John Bennett. Bennett published his first work, Night and Day; or, Better Late than Never in 1858. In 1860 Bennett wrote The Career of an Artful Dodger; his Art and Artfulness for George Vickers. One of his serials about a London street boy was issued in penny numbers by Henry Vickers as The Life and Career of a London Errand Boy

By 1873, three companies were named in an article on cheap literature as purveyors of the “largest proportion of criminal literature of the present time.” Those were The Newsagents’ Publishing Co., Edward Harrison and Henry Vickers. 

The author of the uncomplimentary article identifies the author of The Life and Career of a London Errand Boy, John Bennett, as the “Editor of the Police Record.”[iv] He was probably referring to The Illustrated Police News, Law Courts and Criminal-Record, begun Feb. 20, 1864, which ran to 3862 numbers, ending on Mar 3, 1938. The first publisher was John Ransom and the owners were Lee and Bulpin. It has been suggested that this was Henry Lea and Edwin Bulpin.[v] The Publisher’s Circular told the facts on April 15, 1868.

A curious instance of the vicissitudes attending literary property is given in the Press News of the current month, in the case of the Illustrated Police News, which was originally projected and started by a small machine-printer in London, who, getting into financial difficulties soon after, had to arrange with his creditors, and the publication in question, which was just beginning to pay, was sold out and out for £150.

George Purkess junior had published Purkess’s Penny Library of Romances in January 1863. He was named as proprietor and publisher of the Illustrated Police News in November 1865[vi] and the Illustrated Police Gazette on Feb. 9, 1867. In 1871 he published the Halfpenny Police Gazette; or, London by Gaslight, which was incorporated into the Illustrated Police News after the sixth number. A dubious character named Edward Henri Todé was identified on September 24, 1869 as the editor and publisher of the Illustrated Police News by The English Mechanic, who had previously employed him as an editor. 

If Todé had any connection at all to the Illustrated Police News it was as a one-time editor. The periodical also claimed Todé was the editor of The New Newgate Calendar, a penny dreadful which was serialized by Edward Harrison from 1863 to 1865. In 1870 The English Mechanic wrote that Todé “was no more the creator of this publication than an empty coal barge on the Thames creates the tides on which it rides.” 

Palmer’s Index to “The Times” Newspaper for 1872 shows an inquest had taken place on the body of Edward Henri Todé “who Died of a Fit on the Streets” on May 26 of that year.


[i] Times, October 17, 1861

[ii] On the Sensational in Literature and Art, G.A. Sala, Belgravia, Vol.4, 1867/68, p.445

[iii] Catalog of an Exhibition arranged to illustrate New Paths in Book-Collecting, Nov 1934, p.33

[iv] Cheap Literature Past and Present, John Pownall Harrison, The British Almanac of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 1873, p.60

[v] Cruel Deeds and Dreadful Calamities:  The Illustrated Police News, 1864-1938, Linda Stratmann

[vi] Pennies, Profits and Poverty, Robert J. Kirkpatrick, 2016, P.69

[vii] Cheap Literature Past and Present, The British Almanac 1873, p.78

[viii] Sensational Literature, The Reader, Nov. 12, 1864. P.597

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Turn of the Century Lustige Blätter Illustration –

by Lyonel Feininger











[k] Kin-der-Kids, Chicago Tribune, 1906

[l] Lyonel Feininger, Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1906

Read the full issues at Heidelberg University Library HERE


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Fun Factory –

of Farringdon Street 

The Fun Factory of Farringdon Street, by UK comics historian Alan Clark (author of Comics, an Illustrated History with Laurel Clark, 1992), tells the story of Alfred Harmsworth's Amalgamated Press and the Fleetway House from 1890 to 1960, from the comics (The Funny Wonder, Comic Cuts, Illustrated Chips &c.) to the boys' story papers (Union Jack, Pluck, Magnet &c.). The book is small in size but packed with historical fact and lavishly illustrated. Only available on EBAY.

Edwardian Comic Papers (2021) is out of print now, but is a potpourri look at the publishers, editors, cartoonists and writers of the Edwardian era of comic journals illustrated with period photographs and illustrated comics like Jester & the Wonder, Big Budget, Lark's, Scraps, World's Comic, Funny Cuts &c. Features a lot of unknown fact and history including American imports by Dirks, Charles Dana Gibson, and Opper.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Solly Walter –

 Death of a Great Cartoonist.

Solly Walter, caricaturist, newspaperman and illustrator, was born in 1846 in Vienna, Austria. He settled in San Francisco in 1883, and died February 26, 1900 in Honolulu.

     DEATH OF A GREAT CARTOONIST. INTO the fifty-three years of his life, Solly Walter, who died in Honolulu two weeks ago, had crowded an eventful career as soldier, engineer, and artist. The last was his chosen vocation, and in it he was a master of technique, while the boldest of his conceptions gave a strong, vigorous individuality to all his work. As a cartoonist he was at his best, and his finest productions in this class of art were unquestionably those he designed for the Wasp during his seven years’ connection with this paper as head of the art department. 

His cartoons for the Bohemian Club high jinks, at several of which he was sire, were pure art, too, and are valued possessions of the club. Walter, born an Austrian, had become a true citizen of the world. He was an adept linguist and a brilliant man in every respect. That, after years of travel in many lands, he should finally repose under the palms of peaceful Oahu, is an end that fits his own conception of perfect rest. The Wasp, San Francisco, March 17, 1900

     THE BOHEMIAN CLUB JINKS at Meeker’s Grove last Saturday night was the most successful affair the club has had for years. From soda to hock” the outing went with the go that only brilliant and jolly fellows could give it. There was not a moment when all the Bohemians assembled beneath the forest shades were not imbued with the spirit, or spirits, of the night. It was a grand — a howling success, and the members of the club and their guests cannot be too extravagant in their expressions of appreciation of tbe excellent work done by the gentlemen who directed the festivities. Joe Redding was the presiding genius, and to him belongs most of the honor for the scheme of the entertainment. 

In making out the details he consulted with that prince of good fellows and excellent artist, Solly Walter, otherwise known as “The Melancholy.” Solly, for the nonce throwing off his funereal air, which has been more pronounced than usual since his brief but tempestuous career at Fresno, entered with a will into the spirit of the thing. He devised the beautiful and appropriate decorations, and conceived the “props,” including the Druidical arches, the altar, the catafalque with its four ox skulls, and the skeleton dancers. 

From a scenic standpoint, the jinks were perfect; not a detail was omitted which would have increased the impressive beauty of the forest temple. Nor are the participants in the solemn ceremonies to be less praised than the originators, designers, and directors.

For a week previous to the night of nights, the advance party had the camp to themselves, and they made the forest resound as they howled and howled in the endeavor to develop the proper forest pitch in their voices. The evening before the jinks a jolly party composed of Donald de V. Graham, Joe Redding, Jack Stanton, Amadee Joullin, Van Stow, Solly Walter, W. G. Harrison, Jack Levison, Frank and Charlie Stone, and other sons of Bohemia, gathered round the campfire, they swapped lies in the good old way, and shook the leaves from the trees with their boisterous laughter, a hollowed log acted as a chimney to their fire, and made a lasting pyrotechnic display that gave light to a scene of weird beauty. 

All the surrounding trees were brilliantly illuminated, and where the light fell full upon the branches it formed with them a beautiful silver lace-work, made the more beautiful as it was thrown into bold relief by its back-ground of jet. The dark figures of the forest devotees showed but where the rays of light found an angle to rest upon. Here the prominent nose of Graham cast fantastic shadows upon the pale cheek of Joullin, and the images seemed to dance the merrier as if to keep time with the music that flowed from the tips of the Redding fingers, as tbe gentle Joseph hammered out his repertoire upon the piano.

The High Jinks closed with a devil of a speech delivered by Ned Hamilton, who represented Beelzebub. It was a masterly effort, and uttered in Hamilton's deep tones, with great impressment, filled the audience with a weird dread. The speech, in construction and in delivery, well-illustrated the great virility of the speaker's mental and physical individuality. 

The address of General Barnes, the Bohemian, was the poetical flower of the evening. One who saw and heard the doughty veteran at the jinks and saw him next morning in the tented town's principal street, as he carefully scraped the superabundant whiskers from Joullin’s cheek with a dull razor, would understand why the General is popular. In the Low Jinks, Graham made a hit as a lightning change artist. He impersonated Uncle George Bromley, Harry Brady and Solly Walter in form, face, beard, hair, voice, and movement in rapid, succession, and was rewarded with rounds of applause. 

Adolph Bauer must have walked on air. His great success was well merited. His symphonic orchestra and the chorus, led by his masterly baton, performed their programme faultlessly, and the Sunday morning conceit, also under his direction, was to many the banquet of the whole affair. Of course, everybody was sorry that Stewart and Rosewald were not present. Their “unavoidable” absence, it is said, was entirely due to “professional reasons.” Lotz’s solos on the horn were magnificent. Without going into more detail, it may be said in concluding these remarks upon the Bohemian festival, that the club may well congratulate itself upon being able to give a better entertainment than similar organization in the world.S.F. News Letter, July-Dec 1893


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Original Comicalities – Jones Again!


Grahams Magazine, Philadelphia, Vol 45 Issue 6,  Dec 1854




Read another long Original Comicality HERE
from Graham's Magazine, Vol 45 Issue 4, Oct 1854 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sambo Remo Rastus Brown –

Just as it seemed I was about to make my fortune on a twenty-five-dollar-a-week shift, and that I could go back home and claim the girl I was convinced every fellow with a grain of sense was trying to steal away from me, the half-tone picture came along and kicked the feet from under newspaper artists. It looked like the end of the world then, but it proved to be exactly the thing we needed. Now we were compelled to use our imaginations, our inventiveness. - Seven Men Who Draw Funny pictures – And Large Salaries, Literary Digest, Aug 14, 1920

WHEN Negro boxer Jack Johnson was about to fight the great White Hope James Jeffries for the world heavyweight boxing championship in 1910 at Reno, Nevada cartoonists flocked to cover the fight. Clare Briggs created Sambo Remo Rastus Brown, neighbor and friend to Jack Johnson, and followed him cross country. After many adventures SRRB finally arrived in Reno and became Johnson's sparring partner and second. In 1912 Sambo Remo reappeared in the comic strip Dandy Dreamer, Sr. and Sambo Remo Rastus Brown.

Sept 19, 1926


Thursday, March 11, 2021


by Jack O’Brien

NY Herald Tribune, 1959

Cool Cat, Editor and Publisher, Nov 21, 1959

Cool Cat, Editor and Publisher, Sept 19 1959

More Jack O’Brien HERE


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Happy Hooligan –


Nov 27, 1913


Friday, February 5, 2021

Maverick Victorian Cartoonist –

 Marie Duval

"...her pictures are not imitations of Mr. C.H. Ross's absurd style and can be very easily distinguished from that gentleman's production, because Mademoiselle is an artist, and C.H. Ross is not." – Charles Henry Ross, 1869

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist offers the first critical appraisal of the work of Marie Duval (Isabelle Émilie de Tessier [1847–1890]), one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the later nineteenth century. It discusses key themes and practices of Duval’s vision and production, relative to the wider historic social, cultural and economic environments in which her work was made, distributed and read, identifing Duval as an exemplary radical practitioner. The book interrogates the relationships between the practices and the forms of print, story-telling, drawing and stage performance. It focuses on the creation of new types of cultural work by women and highlights the style of Duval’s drawings relative to both the visual conventions of theatre production and the significance of the visualisation of amateurism and vulgarity. Marie Duval: maverick Victorian cartoonist establishes Duval as a unique but exemplary figure in a transformational period of the nineteenth century.

Marie Duval: Maverick Victorian cartoonist, Roger Sabin, Simon Grennan, Julian Waite, Manchester University Press, 2020

Marie Duval ARCHIVE