Treasure of the month - November 2008
Cruikshank's Comic Almanack: The Gunpowder Plot
This cartoon is from The Comic Almanack by the English artist, caricaturist and book illustrator, George Cruikshank (1792-1878).
Cruikshank was renowned for his humorous drawings, satirical political cartoons and social caricatures of English life. He is considered to have been one of the most important British graphic artists of the nineteenth century and was undoubtedly one of the most popular cartoonists of his day.
Coming from a family of caricaturists and artists, Cruikshank began drawing at an early age. By the age of twenty he was already celebrated for his skilfully-drawn, witty and often irreverent political cartoons. Attuning his work to the public mood of the day, he lampooned public events, court scandals and the like, as well as the country's government at a time when a discontented workforce was agitating for economic and political reform.
Cruikshank's earlier work had been published chiefly in periodicals, but after marrying in 1827 he desired a more steady income and began to publish his work independently. The Comic Almanack was one such venture. Published annually from 1835, the Almanack contained amusing stories, poems, jokes and cartoons. The illustrations were chiefly Cruikshank's and he engaged others such as the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray to supply the stories. The Almanack was a hugely successful publication, although competition from Punch's Almanack, which began in December 1844, eventually led to its demise.
The Comic Almanack: an ephemeris in jest and earnest, containing merry tales, humorous poetry, quips and oddities. By Thackeray, Albert Smith, Gilbert A. Beckett, the Brothers Mayhew, with many hundred illustrations by George Cruikshank and other artists. 1st [-2nd] series, 1835[-1853].