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Robert L. Patten: George Cruikshank research materials

Identifier: MS 0493
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains typescripts, page proofs, research material, correspondence, photographs and artwork relating to Robert Patten's comprehensive work on the life of George Cruikshank, entitled, George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art.

The first series contains material relating to the writing and production of the book, including typescripts, proofs and correspondence with publishing house Rutgers University Press and others, administrative materials and artwork.

The second series contains card file research notes, listing works, correspondence notes (name of correspondents, subject of correspondence (ex. art related, business, personal), location of repository and dates, bibliographical information, subject files and source notes.

Series three includes research material, notes, photocopies of works and articles, catalogs, correspondence, photographic materials, and subject files. Research material, primarily notes and transcriptions of correspondence, from repositories such as Princeton University, Harvard, UCLA and others are included. Collectors Frank S. Bradburn and the artist, Ronald Searle are also represented. The series holds a collection of articles relating to Cruikshank and book illustration and a series of lectures by Robert Patten.

Series four includes prints, pamphlets and illustrations including etchings, engravings and woodcuts. Many are single leaves or a series of leaves from books illustrated by Cruikshank, others are bound or loosely bound books and pamphlets. Still others are proofs (some mounted) on India paper. Many of Cruikshank's works are represented, including illustrations for Oliver Twist and Sketches by Boz (Charles Dickens), W.H. Ainsworth's novels, the Comic Almanack and other illustrations and caricatures.

Series five includes manuscript materials by and about George Cruikshank. Several collectors are represented, including Frank S. Bradburn, Christopher C. Kohler, Ronald Searle, and a number of letters, documents and ephemera obtained through Sotheby's (David Borowitz collection).


  • 1792-2002


Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the Robert L. Patten: George Cruikshank Research Materials, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical Sketch

George Cruikshank, born in London on September 27, 1792 to a Scottish painter, Isaac Cruikshank, and his wife, was an English humorist and illustrator. Briefly educated at Edgeware, he is considered by some to be one of the best humorists that Britain ever produced. Cruikshank began his career as a political satirist but moved on to become a book illustrator. He also had a late interest in oil painting, enrolling in the Academy Schools as a student at the age of sixty-four. In his lifetime he created nearly 10,000 prints, illustrations, and plates. His early drawings often featured attacks on Britain’s royal family. In the 1820s his preoccupation with political caricature waned, however, as he became more interested in theatrical caricatures and book illustrations. Cruikshank produced some of his best-known work for Charles Dickens, beginning with Sketches by Boz , (1836) and reaching an apex with Oliver Twist, (1838). Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Pilgrim’s Progress, Paradise Lost, and seven novels by William Harrison Ainsworth were among other works he illustrated.

Cruikshank married Mary Ann Walker (1807-1849) on October 16, 1827. Two years after her death, on March 7, 1851, he married Eliza Widdison. Later in his life, Cruikshank supported the temperance movement, creating prints illustrating the evils of alcohol. Collections of his works are in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums. George Cruikshank died February 1, 1878.

Robert L. Patten, the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Humanities at Rice University, was born on April 26, 1939 in Oklahoma City. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1960. He went on to earn an M.A. (1962) and Ph.D. (1965) from Princeton University. After college, Patten lectured in English at Bryn Mawr College, leaving there in 1969 to take a position as Assistant Professor in the English Department at Rice University, where he became a full professor in 1976. In 1991 and 1992 Patten chaired Rice’s English Department. The author of dozens of articles and reviews on nineteenth-century British literature, Patten used the materials in this collection to write a two-volume biography of George Cruikshank, entitled George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art (vol. 1, 1992; vol. 2, 1996). In 1999 The Guardian, a British newspaper, called Patten’s biography one of the best books of the 1990s.

Robert L. Patten was a Fulbright Scholar from 1963 to 1964 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 1980. He was also chosen as a Couper Scholar in 2004, served as president of the Rice University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa from 1991 to 1994 and 1997 to 2002, and chaired the Dickens Society in 1973 and 1974. Patten has served in numerous capacities at Rice University, including the Sallyport Award Committee (1986-87), the Advisory Committee on Parking (1992-94), and the University Review Board (1982-84). In addition to George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art, Patten is the author of Charles Dickens and His Publishers(1978), and editor of George Cruikshank: A Revaluation(1974) and Literature in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices (1995). He also serves as editor of Studies in English Literature and founded and briefly edited the periodical Dickens Studies Newsletter.


52 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Typescripts, correspondence, sketches, autographs, articles, notes and other research material relating to George Cruikshank's career as an illustrator as well as his personal and family life. Robert L. Patten's two volume work, George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art> is a comprehensive study of the life and art of George Cruikshank.


This collection is arranged into the following five series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: George Cruikshank’s Life, Times, and Art production files, 1975 - 2001
  2. Series II: Research index card files, 1792-1878
  3. Series III: Research photocopies and notes, 1810-2002
  4. Series IV: Prints, pamphlets, illustrations, paintings and plates, 1807-1988
  5. Series V: Manuscripts, correspondence and other materials by and about George Cruikshank, 1811-1976


This collection was donated by Robert L. Patten in 1999.

Related Materials

See Cruikshank letters, 1845 and 1868, MS 297, Woodson Research Center.

General Physical Description note

(113 boxes)
Guide to the Robert L. Patten: George Cruikshank research materials, 1792 - 2002, bulk 1836-1977
Finding aid prepared by Lisa Moellering
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA