The Comic History of England

Remember a few posts ago, I showed you an old print of the marriage of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou? I knew the style looked vaguely familiar, and that’s because it is by John Leech, a well-known illustrator for Punch. John Leech did a whole series of illustrations for a 1847 book called The Comic History of England, written by Gilbert Abbott a Beckett, a humorist who also served as a police magistrate and whose admirers included Charles Dickens. He seems to have been a very pleasant man, who upon his untimely death from typhus while on holiday with his family was remembered in his obituary in The Times as for his “acuteness, humanity and impartiality” in rendering justice. As for John Leech, his credits include some of the illustrations for A Christmas Carol.

Anyway, I ran across The Comic History of England in Google Books today, and had some splendid giggles over the illustrations of the people those who read this blog know and love. Here’s a few.

Edward II and Piers Gaveston (sorry, folks, there’s none of Hugh the younger):

Queen Philippa Begs for the Burghers of Calais:

Somerset Quarrels With York:

Rene of Anjou:

The Marriage of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou (in case you missed it before):

Queen Margaret and the Robber:

Edward IV Meeting Elizabeth Woodville:

Richard, Duke of Gloucester Greeting the Duke of York (if you’re the cranky breed of Ricardian, this is the place to stop reading):

Richard Being Offered the Crown:

Richard III Puts on Mourning for His Nephews:

Henry Tudor:

Richard III and White Surrey:

Henry VII Is Crowned:

You can download the book (and get a better look at the illustrations, which shrink when I download them) on Google Books. Take a look at the whole thing–it’s a hoot!

8 thoughts on “The Comic History of England”

  1. Thanks for the chuckles. Edward and Piers is priceless, as is Elizabeth W meeting Edward.

  2. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, ladies! Can't quite tell whether Edward II has hose or not. And I love the parasol Elizabeth W has!

  3. I love his illustration style. I have never heard of the book. Heading over to google books now….must see them larger.

  4. I love the way the way the artist mixes up Victorian and Medieval clothing styles-the illustration of EIV greeting EW wearing a jousting helmet is funny-and I LOL'd at the one showing RIII shedding "crocodile tears" for his poor nephews!

  5. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, Bearded Lady, Caroline, and Ragged Staff! Great drawings, aren't they? The text of The Comic History is amusing as well.

  6. trish wilson

    Oh those Victorian horrors! With all the money that was flying around at the time one would have thought they could have employed a decent artist.

    Of course that all depends on whether the Victorians had something that could be called 'taste'

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