frontispiece and title page
The New York Public Library, Berg Collection of
English and American Literature

Portrait sketches of the young Charles Dickens by George Cruikshank.

On an evening in April 1837, during one of the nightly meetings of a convivial association of literary men known as the Hook and Eye Club, Dickens sat in an armchair, conversing, when George Cruikshank exclaimed, "Sit still, Charles, while I take your portrait!" At the beginning of his spectacular literary ascent, Dickens is here every inch the fashionable young gentleman about town with, as one observer would recall many years later, "long brown hair falling in silky masses over his temples." The familiar beard was years to come.