Sex and the City: Rethinking the Victorians Series

From the first motion pictures onwards, the Victorian city has captured the imagination of filmmakers and audiences alike. From Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper and Hammer Horror to the bustled heroines of period drama, ideas about sex and the city are never far beneath the surface of London’s panorama on screen. Join Dr Jenny Graham, of PUNCS, to look, through film and with guest speakers, at the lives of men and women in the period.

Our first guest speaker is the distinguished historian of gender and sexuality, Dr Lesley Hall, Wellcome Library Research Fellow, who will be talking about

Passions between Women in Victorian Britain

26 April 2016, 19.00 – 20.30

G. Henry Evison, The Windsor Magazine, vol.28 (June to November 1908)p.119. Image courtesy of PUNCS.


Join Dr Hall as she explores the fascinating subject of romantic friendship between women in the Victorian period. Were passions between women deemed appropriate only in adolescence, to be superseded by marriage, or were things rather different in reality?

Dr Hall’s talk will examine the stories of women who loved and were loved by other women in 19th-century Britain, which reveal a more varied account than the stereotypes allow.


Venue: Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building

Tickets info: £6.60 / £4.50/ free to Peninsula Arts Friends

Ticket discounts available via Artory App


Claude Shepperson, illustration to Frances Rivers, ‘A Time of Roses’, The Windsor Magazine (1908), p.343. Image courtesy of PUNCS.

‘The second centenary of the death of the Father of the British Stage’: Shakespeare in April 1816

Whatever may be the plan resolved upon, I ardently hope it will be alike calculated to reflect honour upon the bard and upon the country. Let the celebration be worthy of the man, to whom England is more indebted than to any name her annals can boast. I allude not to his poetry alone, wonderful and unrivalled though it be it is clear to me that the manly love of freedom, and vigour of thought peculiar to Englishmen, has arisen in no small degree from the general circulation and perusal of his plays.

Theatrical Inquisitor and Monthly Mirror,  April 1816, p.266.

DSC01262 Shakespeare, by Droeshout, reproduced in The Illustrated Library Shakspeare (London: W. Mackenzie), IX. Image from PUNCS collection.

So commented the correspondent ‘R.T.’, in a letter to The Theatrical Inquisitor, a periodical published in London, in 12 April 1816.

Romanticists, Gothicists, Victorianists and others have written much about the nineteenth-century’s response to Shakespeare: on stage, in literature, music and in the visual arts. We have had – to list just modern works – Adrian Poole’s Shakespeare and the Victorians (2014); Joseph Ortiz’s edited collection Shakespeare and the Culture of Romanticism (2013); Stuart Sillars’ Shakespeare and the Victorians (2013) and Shakespeare, Time and the Victorians: A Pictorial Exploration (2011); Gail Marshall’s edited collection Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century (2012); Kathryn Prince’s Shakespeare in the Victorian Periodicals (2011); Kimberley Rhodes’s Ophelia and Victorian Visual Culture: Representing Body Politics in the Nineteenth Century (2008); Andrew Murphy’s Shakespeare for the People: Working Class Readers, 1800–1900 (2008); Richard Foulkes’s Performing Shakespeare in the Age of Empire (2006); Richard Schoch’s Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century (2003); Linda Rozmovits’s Shakespeare and the politics of culture in late Victorian England (1998); Schoch’s Shakespeare’s Victorian Stage: Performing History in the (1998), Valerie Gager’s Shakespeare and Dickens: The Dynamics of Influence (1996) … and essays by many other scholars! The most recent collections include, appropriately for a blog published in April 2016, Christa Jansohn and Dieter Mehl’s edited collection, Shakespeare Jubilees: 1769–2014 (2015).


Shakespeare’s House, from The Illustrated Library Shakspeare, IX

This blog essay looks at the treatment of Shakespeare during the two hundredth anniversary of his death. Adrian Poole has recently (in Clara Calvo and Coppelia Kahn’s edited collection, Celebrating Shakespeare: Commemoration and Cultural Memory, 2015) explained why 1816 saw so little in the way of Shakespeare commemorations in Britain: there being other concerns, after the defeat of Napoleon in the previous year, and the economic consequences of the end of global war. Poole’s essay, ‘Relic, pageant, sunken wrack: Shakespeare in 1816,’ studies the commemorative activities of the antiquarian John Britton (promoting the sculptured likeness in Stratford church as the only authentic image of the bard, via William Ward’s mezzotint … from an oil painting by Thomas Phillips …  after a cast by George Bullock …. from the monumental bust), the essayist William Hazlitt, and the novelist Sir Walter Scott, whose works, Poole notes, have Shakespearian phrases scattered throughout them.

Britton’s print was to be sold for £1 on Indian paper in proof stage, the plain quarto edition for subscribers would be 10s.  Britton published an accompanying Remarks on the Monumental Bust of Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon: with two Wood-cuts, representing Front and Profile Views of the Bust.— London; published by the Author, April 28, 1816. To accompany a Portrait engraved by William Ward, A.R.A. from a Picture, by Thomas Philips, Esq. R.A. and wrote to the press (e.g., European Magazine, July 1816, pp.32-34).

Various engravings have indeed appeared, purporting to give exact representations of the Bust, but most of those are executed in the vilest manner, and none are perfectly correct copies. The admirers of Shakspeare are therefore deeply indebted to Mr. Britton for the admirable engraving which the Essay before us is intended to illustrate; it was executed under his immediate inspection, and is a most perfect resemblance of the original. The ‘Essay,’ and ‘Portrait’ were delivered to the subscribers on the 23d of April last, the day which completed the second centenary of years from the poet’s death. In a pecuniary point of view Mr. Britton will not probably have much reason to felicitate himself on the task he has performed; but he has deserved and will receive the thanks and gratitude of all those, whose admiration of the poet of nature is as enthusiastic and glowing as his own.

The Theatrical Inquisitor, vol. 9, July 1816, p.50.

‘Shakspeare’s Monument’, The Illustrated Library Shakspeare, IX


What of other commemorative efforts beyond these individuals, and beyond the damp event of the ‘Grand Pageant’ – with its ‘pantomimic representation of the principal scene’ in selected plays and it commemorative medal – that occurred at Stratford-on-Avon on Tuesday 23 April 1816, and which itself initiated the tradition of anniversary celebrations?



at Shakpeare’s Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon, on

Tuesday the 23d of April instant, at Ten o’clock;

at Four o’clock precisely there will be a DINNER;

and in the evening a BALL. Dancing to commence

at Ten. –


Right Hon. the Earl of GUILDFORD.

Right Hon. Lord MIDDLETON.



Tickets for the Dinner will he delivered at the Bar

of the Red Horse Inn, and at Mr. Ward’s, stationer,

Stratford; and, those Gentlemen who purpose ho-

-nouring the company with their attendance, are most

particularly requested to send for Tickets on or before the I9th instant, in order that a suitable provision may be made.

Tickets for the Breakfast and Ball to be had also of Mr. Ward.

Oxford Journal, 13 April 1816

[Mr Ward was the bookseller and stationer James Ward, who published R.B. Wheler’s Historical and Descriptive Account of the Birth Place of Shakespeare, 1824]

The metropolitan theatres had their commemorations. At Drury Lane, after a performance of Romeo and Juliet; and at Covent Garden after a performance of Coriolanus, actors recited David Garrick’s Jubilee Ode of 1769 and performed the Stratford Jubilee. The Evening Mail and London Courier, 24 April, described this work as ‘trifling and nonsensical’: extracting the following gems from Garrick’s verse, ‘The Warwickshire Lad’:

Ye Warwickshire lads and ye lasses,

See what at our jubilee passes;

Come revel away, rejoice, and be glad,

the lad of all lads was Warwickshire lad.

Warwickshire lad,

All be glad,

For the lad of all lads was a Warwickshire lad.


The actor Pope’s recitation at Drury Lane was said to resemble ‘that of a Methodist parson somewhat muddled with porter’ (Theatrical Inquisitor, p.373). At Covent Garden, Charles Kemble’s cast (which included ‘Master Betty’ as Hamlet) ‘gave, in dumb shew, little characteristic touches, which were much admired by the audience, who were thus happily reminded of many of the most striking scenes in their favourite Author’s works’ (Morning Post, 24 April 1816). There was also Banquo’s ghost, the witches’ cauldron, the tomb of the Capulets and other appropriate stage ‘machinery,’ with the image of Shakespeare ‘wearing his immortal wreath.’ Songs, Chorusses, &c., in the Musical Afterpiece, Called Garrick’s Jubilee: As First Performed at the Theatre-Royal, Drury-Lane, in 1769, and Now Revived, (under the Direction of Mr. Farley), at the Theatre-Royal, Covent-Garden, 23d of April, 1816, Being the Second Centenary of Years from the Death of Shakspeare … with a Plan of the Grand Pageant of the Characters of Shakspeare, by the Whole of the Company, to give its full title, was a sixteen-page pamphlet published by John Miller.


Detail from engraving of Coriolanus, after Sir John Gilbert, The Illustrated Library Shakspeare, V.

The metropolitan and Stratford-upon-Avon celebrations were reported in the provincial press across Britain. There were some provincial commemorations too – though these were limited. At Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it was announced that Garrick’s Jubilee would also be performed at the Theatre Royal, then being managed by the actor William Macready. The theatrical entertainment followed a public dinner at the Queen’s Head Inn (Durham County Advertiser, 13 April 1816). The note was signed by the printer and bookseller Edward Humble (1753–1820). Humble was secretary to a committee of the theatre proprietors and also proprietor of the Shakespeare Press (and Durham County Advertiser) in Newcastle. Afterwards, this newspaper – an ‘ultra Tory’ paper – reported that seventy gentlemen had been present: these included the mayor of Newcastle, Colonel Ramsay of the Artillery, and as the chairman, the banker and son of a baronet, William Loraine (1780–1851). Apart from toasting the memory of the immortal bard there were toasts to the royal family, Princess Charlotte and her husband-to-be; the Duke of Wellington; and even Sir Humphry Davy ‘who by a late ingenious invention, had rendered such services to this neighbourhood’). Shakespeare, Loraine declared, had raised ‘the British stage to such a pitch, as not only to become a source of national pride to his country, but the admiration and the envy of surrounding nations’ (Durham County Advertiser, 27 April 1816).

The semi-retired actor and manager Stephen Kemble (1758–1822), who spoke at the dinner, inevitably [mis]quoted Shakespeare’s John of Gaunt: ‘this land, this dear, dear land, this precious stone set in the silver sea’. The Theatre Royal entertainment included Twelfth Night with Garrick’s Jubilee, but also George Colman the younger’s Sylvester Daggerwood (or, New hay at the old market: an interlude, in one act)… The landlord Peter Forster’s decorations at the Queen’s Head hotel included a ‘colossal figure of Shakespeare resting on a pedestal, and holding in his hand a scroll, on which were inscribed the beautiful lines, beginning “the cloud-cap’t towers, &c.” graced the room, and had a pleasing effect.’ Evidently this was a copy of the monument in Westminster Abbey by William Kent (1740), with the same quotation from The Tempest. The commemoration was reported in the pages of The Theatrical Inquisitor (May 1816, pp.333-334).

There was commemoration further afield: the Caledonian Mercury (4 May 1816) reported:

In no part of his native country could the anniversary of this great man have been celebrated with higher devotion and enthusiasm, than at Alloa, in Clackmannanshire. A Shakespeare Club has for many years existed in that place, the members of which have always held a literary festival on the day that gave birth to the greatest poet the world ever beheld … a number of their literary friends and acquaintances were invited to join in the social pleasures of the evening. When dinner was over, and a few general toasts were given, the President rose, and after an appropriate eulogy, concluding with a quotation from one of the poet’s best plays, gave, ‘The memory of Shakespeare,’ which was drunk standing, and in deep silence. Mr James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, who is now an honorary member, and poet laureate of the Club, then produced and read an ode ‘To the genius of Shakespeare;’ upon which the president, after a short address most flattering to the bard, and well calculated to encourage him in his poetical career,  presented him in name of the Society, with a handsome silver cup, having the Shakespeare arms beautifully engraved on one side, and the following inscription on the other, ‘Presented to Mr James Hogg, by his brethren of the Shakespeare Club of Alloa in testimony of their esteem for him as a man, and their admiration of him as a poet.’


Hogg’s poem, probably the same as that published in his collected works, began:


To The Genius of Shakespeare


Spirit all limitless,

    Where is thy dwelling-place?

Spirit of him whose high name we revere,

Come on thy seraph wings,

    Come from thy wanderings,

And smile on thy votaries, who sigh for thee here!

Come, O thou spark divine!

     Rise from thy hallowed shrine!

Here in the windings of Forth thou shalt see

Hearts true to Nature’s call,

      Spirits congenial,

Proud of their country, yet bowing to thee!

The Poetical Works of the Ettrick Shepherd: Including the Queen’s Wake, Pilgrims of the Sun, Mador of the Moor, Mountain Bard, Etc., Etc. With an Autobiography, and Illustrative Engravings, from Original Drawings, vol. 4 (Glasgow: Blackie, 1840).


This event, too, was reported in the pages of the Theatrical Inquisitor, which had sought ‘accounts of the various celebrations of the second centenary of the immortal Shakspeare’.


If Scotsmen such as James Hogg of Ettrick (1770–1835) and his associates (the club being founded by the timber merchant Alexander Bald in 1804, see The Collected Letters of James Hogg: 1800–1819, 2004, p.443) at the town and port of Alloa in the Scottish Lowlands could embrace Shakespeare as a native genius, what of Stratfordians who might be expected to especially cherish the memory? They had been asked (through a letter in Worcester Journal, 18 April 1816), as Englishmen and townsmen, to ‘rejoice in the natal honour of our illustrious poet,’ and to ‘endeavour to fully appreciate his worth, prove that the world, and implant it on the plastic mind of the rising generation … Though our creeds properly forbid us to worship his name or image, yet we may revere the one, admire the other, and continue to peruse his works with infinite gratification and advantage.’ (‘R.B.W.’ – the historian R.B. Wheler).

Not everyone was an admirer and the Theatrical Inquisitor had reprinted the radical William Cobbett’s attack on bardolatry (in the course of a diatribe against ‘the Potato’)  in 1816:

I ask you what it is that can make a nation admire Shakspeare? what is that can make them call him a ‘Divine Bard,’ nine tenths of whose works are made up of such trash as no decent man, now-a-days, would not be ashamed, and even afraid, to put his name to? what can make an audience in London sit and hear, and even applaud, under the name of Shakspeare, what they would hiss off the stage in a moment, if it came forth under any other name? When folly has once given the fashion she is a very persevering dame.

Theatrical Inquisitor, February 1816, p.94.


The patriotic strain is noticeable in newspaper commentary elsewhere: the Chester Chronicle commemorating the 23 April, on 3 May, with a paragraph which describes Shakespeare as ‘This Divine Poet’ and the ‘Pride of Britain, of poetry, and the Drama’. Later came news, as reported in the Gentleman’s Magazine (April 1816, p.349; and reprinted in provincial papers such as Manchester Times), of the honour given by the Académie Française to the poet Jean-François Ducis (1733–1816), who had died in March: ‘England especially may view with pleasure the distinction shown to a man devoted to English literature, and who, his six translation, from Shakespeare, … manifested at least his fond admiration for the great Bard, whom the mass of Frenchmen, not having the capacity to comprehend, presume in their ignorant vanity to despise.’ (But see John Pemble’s Shakespeare Goes to Paris, 2006).

1816 had seen a pantomime-tragique put on by Bonnachon in Paris, based rather distantly on Hamlet, in which the ghost came to life as a talking statue at the end of the play (see Helen Bailey, Hamlet in France: From Voltaire to Laforgue, 1964, p.26). Lady Morgan’s La France en 1816 (vol.2, pp.125-126), has an extensive footnote on the French lack of knowledge of Shakespeare, through Voltaire’s bad translations. Yet the Theatrical Inquisitor suggested that English tastes were being catered for – Paris being ‘full’ of them in early 1816 – with performances of Hamlet and Alexandre Duval’s afterpiece in one act, ‘Shakspeare Amoureux, ou La Pièce a l’Étude’ at the Académie Royale de Musique in the Rue de Richelieu. (Theatrical Inquisitor, January 1816, p.48). Shakespeare in love was played by the actor Francois-Joseph Talma.


‘Sigh no More Ladies’, from Much ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene III. By Sir John Gilbert, Illustrated Library Shakspeare


In Prussia, by contrast, a serious production of Hamlet was staged on 23 April 1816 at the Berlin Royal Theatre (see Christine Roger’s La réception de Shakespeare en Allemagne de 1815 à 1850: propagation et assimilation de la référence étrangère, 2008). A Dane, Jorgen Jorgenson wrote, in Travels through France and Germany, in the Years 1815, 1816, & 1817 (1817) that ‘Shakespeare’s plays are exhibited here with much éclat, and in their true senses’. Shakespeare’s work had been translated, adapted and were starting to be performed in Scandinavia in the early-nineteenth century, a commemorative performance of Shakespeare apparently took place in ‘Hamlet’s castle’ of Kronborg in Denmark, for instance, in 1816 (for the translation of Shakespeare in Europe in this period, see Dirk Delabastita and Lieven D’hulst, eds, European Shakespeares: Translating Shakespeare in the Romantic Age, 1993; see also Jozef de Vos and Paul Franssen, eds, Shakespeare and European Politics, 2008 for essays which explore the impact of versions of Shakespeare elsewhere in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, for example, in Spain).
DSC01258   DSC01277   DSC01273




Images of King Lear by Sir John Gilbert, the Ghost in Hamlet by Robert Dudley, and ‘Come Away Death’, Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene II, by Sir John Gilbert: all from The Illustrated Library Shakspeare 



The Plum Pudding in the Long Nineteenth Century

John Bull Guards His Pudding 1859

Image: Punch, 31 December 1859: image in PUNCS collection


One enduring item in the British culinary self-imagination has been the plum pudding – often closely associated in festivities with the roast beef (of old England). The pudding – so named for the dried fruits which may have included fruit other than prunes – was not just for Christmas time but has come to be associated with this festival: and this short essay traces its visual representation and uses over the ‘long nineteenth century’. The dish can be traced back to the medieval dishes of spiced, meat and fruit flavoured broths and porridges; and, although in our calorie-conscious modern age we might not like to eat it ourselves, it was a prized dish in English history.

Thomas Rowlandson, the famous graphic artist of the late eighteenth century, chose the sight of a pudding glimpsed through a window (held by a puddingey-looking figure), to illustrate the passion of ‘admiration’ – in this case it is really the hunger of a youth for a ‘Plumb Pudding’ – in a series of engravings in 1800.

The graphic artist Isaac Cruikshank, in 1807, depicting one of the Christmas customs of ‘Twelfth Night’ (which had its own cake), has that famous embodiment of national identity, the corpulent John Bull, speak: ‘let things go on as they will – do not let us lose sight of Old English Customs – the Bulwarks of our Constitution’. Plum pudding could be seen in this light – an edible bulwark of the English Constitution.

The next image we might consider shows a depiction of the pudding being steamed, in an engraving designed by an artist, George Cruickshank, closely associated with the novelist Charles Dickens. Here the suetty fruit pudding is wrapped in cloth and being boiled in a ‘copper’. In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843), Ebenezer Scrooge’s third spectral visitor, the ‘ghost of Christmas present,’ as drawn by John Leech, points to the now established motif of the spherical plum pudding adorned with holly – the ‘speckled cannon ball’.

The pudding is a hearty dish, full of fats (and with butter sauce to add) ideal for an era before central heating. But the dish as a source of indigestion figures in a number of nineteenth-century representations. An 1835 image, a humorous engraving by Alfred Crowquill, shows the devils of indigestion tormenting a man: a slice of Christmas pudding lies on the table beside the agonized fellow.

We can look up references to the plum pudding quite easily using internet-published material, using the digitised texts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries freely available through Google books, and though searches of online sites such as Bridgeman Art Gallery. Image searches also reveal a mass of pudding-related imagery: from comic and sentimental imagery to more serious visual record engraved illustrations in nineteenth-century newspapers (where, as we shall see, the contrast between the ‘homely’ and the exotic and perilous, could be dramatized by the presence of the pudding), to chromolithographic (colour-printed) Christmas cards.

There’s a certain nostalgia for the early nineteenth-century ‘Merrie England’ of the Georgian Regency in some of the late-Victorian images, thus G.A. Storey’s serving maid with wooden ladle who is ready to offer the viewer to ‘Come stir the Christmas pudding’, in Illustrated London News, 9 December 1893; and Charles Green’s ‘Christmas Comes but Once a Year,’ which was a colour lithograph that appeared in Pears’ Christmas Annual in 1896 and which show a servant bringing the steaming pudding into a middle-class dining room. The Graphic’s Christmas number for 1873 went further back in the history of the pudding with its representation of a jester stealing a kiss from an encumbered Tudor serving wench in an image by Durand. Children stirring the Christmas pudding mix in the bowl (and making a wish) played to Victorian sentimental tastes, with prints offered in Christmas numbers of the illustrated press, with mother and maids in The Graphic in 1876, or alone, as in Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in 1885 and, with (presumably) her mother, in the Illustrated London News in 1889.

From this overview of the pudding’s visual history, we can take the pudding’s life history from c.1781 through to the twentieth century interwar period. The first image we might look at in more detail is the representation of England in a series, ‘Seven Prints of the Tutelar saints’, published in London in 1781. Here we see the lion’s paw on which a Englishman is mounted like a horseman (the man is dressed like a sailor/soldier hybrid), rests on a bowl of pudding. The pose is an echo of the lion of St Mark, whose paw rests on a globe. The verse printed below, speaks of ‘noble sirloin, rich pudding and strong Beer’.

The pudding figures in texts examining English character and manners, in the eighteenth-century. The foreign observer Henri Misson commented, in a text published in 1719, on the Englishman’s joys at ‘pudding time’ – a native phrase which meant to arrive opportunely. The English treated it like manna from heaven, Misson wrote, ‘Ah, what an excellent thing is an English pudding.  To come in pudding time, is as much to say, to come in the most lucky Moment in the world.’ An English writer’s riposte to this satire, in The Freeholder, 2 April 1716, was that the dish, ‘it must be confessed is not so elegant a dish as frog and salad’, thus responding in kind by expressing those prejudices about the oddities of Gallic cuisine. As a symbol of all that was stodgy about the unreformed English polity, John Cannon, in his study, Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832 (1973), describes the eighteenth-century as ‘Pudding Time’ (in this case, quoting from verse entitled, ‘The Vicar of Bray’). Plate 6 of George Cruikshank’s Illustrations of Time, of 1827, has the pudding being presented at the dining table to illustrate the idea of ‘Pudding Time’.

Let’s consider next the famous representation, by the leading graphic artist of the late-nineteenth-century, James Gillray, immortalising prime minister, William Pitt the Younger as the partner in a meal-for-two on a global scale: carving up the globe with that arch-enemy of the British empire, Napoleon Bonaparte. The image: reproduced as an etching published on 26 February 1805 (by H. Humphrey of 27 St James’s Street) has the caption:

‘The Plumb-pudding in danger: –or –State Epicures taking un Petit Souper’

‘the great Globe itself, and all which it inherit’, is too small to satisfy such insatiable appetite’

[you can see this in the high resolution image in Wikipedia]

It is quite a sparse cartoon for Gillray – and all the more effective for this. The context, according to the scholarly commentary, is the attempt to broker peace with Britain, on the part of the new Emperor, in January 1805. But we might also contextualise the image in Gillray’s frequent use of food and eating, in such cartoons as ‘John Bull taking a Luncheon – or – British Cooks cramming Old Grumble-Gizaard with Bonne Chere’; and the grisly ‘Un petit Super à la Parisienne: –or – A Family of sans Culotts [sic] refreshing after the fatigues of the day’: which links the French revolutionary terror with cannibalism. You can see the image ‘The Plumb-pudding in danger’ in the online collection of the National Portrait Gallery. If you search Google images, you will find evidence for the continued influence of this striking image in a cartoon by Dave Brown, The Independent, from 2011: carving up Libya and causing an oil fountain to explode. Nineteenth-century homages to this image appear in cartoons by British, American and continental European artists. But before this image had most memorably associated William Pitt with the plum pudding, there was ‘Plum Pudding Billy in all his Glory’. The image, which is a satire on Sir Watkin Lewis, the ‘child’ Pitt, and John Wilkes – on the occasion that the new Prime Minister was dined by the Lord Mayor and City of London figures, is explained by the script underneath:


The Chancellor Billy behold here is seated

To tast a plum-pudding by Sir Watty intreated.

He sticks on a leake more his fancy to please

And in hope of preferment is down on his knees


Squinting Jack as the C —-n comes in behind

Supposing he may want to S – t when he has dined

He holds the utencil & thinks not disgrace –

Lord how Folks are worshipd in Power and place.


The image is discussed in Anja Müller’s, Framing Childhood in Eighteenth-century English Periodicals and Prints, 1689-1789.

To return to the theme of French and British tastes, in a later cartoon, for the Illustrated London News, 21 December 1850, there appeared ‘The Dreadful Turn-out of a French Plum-Pudding!!! Or, the Misfortunes of Monsieur and Madame De La Betise, whose Grand Object in Life was to live in the English Style, trustfully narrated by Horace Mayhew and Alfred Crowquill’. This involves a disaster with the national dish (poudin aux raisins). The same sense of incomprehension plays out in a cartoon by A. Forestier, ‘An English Christmas in Paris. But is this Pudding? … Never Again’, in the same paper, in 22 December 1883.

As Maggie Black has argued, the enduring place of the plum pudding at Christmas time may be linked to the royal family’s support for the Christmas Day pudding ritual. Recipes appear in famous Victorian cookery books such as that book written – or at least assembled – by Mrs Beeton (1861).

As we have already seen, images abound in the Christmas-time issues of the illustrated periodicals and newspapers that emerged in the Victorian era. There was Kenny Meadows’ ‘pudding making’ and ‘pudding taking’ in the Christmas supplement to the Illustrated London News in 1848. On 23 December 1852 in the Illustrated London News we have ‘Plum-Pudding, a Dream of Christmas’, a story from Watts Phillips. In pantomime, such as the figures from a ‘Twelfth Night’ tale appearing in the Illustrated London News, we can also find plenty of images of the Christmas Pudding.

Plum puddings were celebratory and festive fare at Christmas. They figured as a demonstration of festive philanthropy for a society without the welfare state: with images of ‘pudding philanthropy’ in workhouses and other sites for the poor and the unfortunate. Thus members of the United Cooks’ Society are shown ‘preparing a Monster Plum-Pudding at Marylebone Workhouse for the Lancashire Operatives’, in a picture for The Illustrated London News, 3 January 1863. The recipients were the workers enduring hardship as a result of the crisis in the cotton textile industry. And, supposedly heart-warming and amusing, is the imagery for an item, published in The Graphic,  25 December 1886, by Harry Hamilton Johnston, the page depicts scenes from ‘A Christmas Dinner given by Actors to Poor Children in Lambeth’: we can also see the ‘Effects of the Pudding’.

The pudding also appeared in imagery outside Christmas, for example, during royal jubilees. The image entitled ‘The King and Queen at the Windsor Festivities’, published in The Graphic, 23 April 1887, was a late-Victorian visual recreation of a moment during George III’s Jubilee. The plum pudding might also appear outside any festivity: in parliamentary debates on the (protectionist) Corn Laws in April 1825 the fact that ‘the workmen London had roast beef and plum pudding on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday,’ was used in the debates in the Commons about agricultural interests vs. the interests of the rest of the country.

The politico-satirical use of the plum pudding which we have seen in James Gillray’s famous image, continued: see for example the nursery rhyme style vignette, ‘In the Thick of it, or a Regal Christmas Day’, by C.J. Grant, appearing in a newspaper from the 1840s. Here the royal couple (ALBERT: – Her, her, dis is von fine Blom Buddin, her, her; Angland is der Blace for goot tings.’) and the Duke of Wellington are shown helping themselves to a gargantuan  plum pudding whilst handing over a plate of plum stones for an understandably disgruntled John Bull – represented as a cook, to eat. Florence Claxton (painter of the satire on the Pre-Raphaelites, ‘The Choice of Paris’, in 1860), imagined the reverse scene, in her bizarre ‘Utopian Christmas’, in the Christmas supplement to the Illustrated London News, 31 December 1859: the engraving showed Queen and Prince Albert overseeing the offering of pudding and other delights to the beggars and the poor, in Buckingham Palace.

There are foreign examples too, of the pudding used in political or social commentary at Christmas time: the American periodical Puck in December 1882, has a ‘Holiday Plum Pudding’ by J. Keppler, with a cherub, the knife engraved, ‘with malice towards none’ cutting through a pudding composed of the faces of celebrities of the day:

My final set of images to reflect, bring us back to the theme of the imperial pudding. Courtesy of The Graphic in 1878, we are in colonial India. In this coloured engraving: the European hunter offers a glass of alcohol to an obsequious native after a tiger hunt. A hamper is adorned with a small Christmas pudding. From the Illustrated London News, 8 February 1879, we have one scene from ‘Christmas at Jellalabad: The First Slice of the Plum Pudding’: the context is the war in Afghanistan. In The Graphic for 27 December 1879, there are dreams of the pudding and other traditional foods, for soldiers on the Afghan Campaign, ‘Christmas Tide at the Front’.

We can situate this image in a genre of the pudding delivered to grateful stomachs under, or after, peril. This vein of imagery continues in paintings such as W.H. Overend’s, ‘A Christmas Pudding for the Lighthouse,’ for the Illustrated London News in 1891; and ‘Christmas on the veldt: a correspondent’s pudding’, with the setting of the Anglo-Boer war, in The Sphere in December 1900. Linley Sambourne’s full-page cartoon from the Christmas number of the Illustrated London News for 1876 has a boy – asleep on animal skins and toy gun at his feet, dreaming a nightmarish pudding transmogrified into news items of African and Arctic expeditions (the theme of dreams related to plum pudding surface elsewhere, for example in Blanchard Jerrold’s The Story of Madge there is the angry housemaid who falls asleep, ‘scorning the Christmas pudding, despising the mince pies,’ but Fairy Content gives her a lesson in all the labour involved in making the plum pudding, The Athenaeum , 8 April 1871, p.431)

The pudding could and did travel. Captain Cook’s Voyages, as one cartoon image chromolithographed on a late-nineteenth century card recorded, had included the enthusiastic reception of plum-pudding by the friendly Lapps. In the late Victorian period, when commercially available puddings were advertised in the Illustrated London News, as manufactured by Peak, Frean and Co., the pudding could be sent abroad in tins. They could also be made by homesick settlers. W. Dalston’s image for the Illustrated London News, in 24 December 1870 shows white settlers tucking in to pudding in Australia. From the Graphic’s Christmas number in 1881, there appears a coloured sequence of images of two male settlers cooking and suffering the consequences of a pudding in Canada. There’s also an engraving, ‘Making a Christmas Pudding in China’, from 1873, showing Chinese men and youths looking on with interest as they are instructed by two British men, in the art of pudding stirring.

In the twentieth century, the pudding was literally the fruits of the empire, in the form of the Empire Marketing Board effort in 1828, which was endorsed by royalty – a pudding being presented to the King on Empire Day. There are several images of this campaign, ‘Making the Empire Christmas Pudding’, to sell the empire on the basis of all the exotic and not-so-exotic ingredients that were combined to make the English traditional delicacy and which allowed the British family to ingest, digest, incorporate, and assimilate the empire.

The imperial family was brought together through the pudding (John Mackenzie’s study Imperialism and Popular Culture uses this on the front cover), which also figured in an Empire Marketing Board film by Walter Creighton, ‘One Family … illustrating the food products supplied by Empire producers at Home and Overseas’ (there is a link to the film, below ). It could be made with Canadian apples, West Indian demerara sugar, Jamaican rum, English beer, cloves from Zanzibar, beef suet from New Zealand and spice from India. One advertisement for the Empire Xmas Pudding has Britannia in the role of pudding bearer, ‘and you will enjoy it all the more if you remember that, by using Empire fruit to make it, you give a helping hand to the thousands of British settlers Overseas…’ It is not surprising that the pudding has more recently been suggested as a lesson theme, to teach Key Stage pupils in England about the ‘vast range of the Empire’ and the role of women in the empire.


James Gregory, 21 December 2015





Further Reading

Blanchard Jerrold, The story of Madge and the fairy Content (London: J.C. Hotten, 1870)

Via Google books


Maggie Black, ‘The Englishman’s Plum Pudding’, History Today 31:  12 December 1981


Web links

‘The Pudding King’, Ivan Day, in his Food History Jottings blog,


Judith Flanders, ‘Victorian Christmas’, an essay published by the British Library,


What can we learn about the Empire from a Christmas pudding?


‘One Family’

Research Seminar on 30 September 2015

PUNCS lectures and talks: Semester 1, 2015

We are delighted to begin the semester with two invited speakers from the University of the West of England:

The talks take place in Babbage Building on the main campus, 3-5 pm in BGB 417

Marie Mulvey-Roberts, University of the West of England

“Death by Orgasm: Masturbation, Sexual Surgery and Dracula”


Steve Poole, University of the West of England

‘Parallel lives and divergent reputations: John Thelwall, John Gale Jones and the “enormous condescension of posterity”.’

Napoleon & Plymouth 1815 | 2015 … PUNCS co-organised day-conference 5 September 2015


Tomorrow sees the conference on Napoleon & Plymouth 1815 | 2015, public talks on the international context, the local impact, images & memory.

University of Plymouth, Roland Levinsky Building: Lecture Theatre 2

The Keynote speakers are Professor William Doyle (Bristol), on ‘Napoleon and the British: from Toulon Harbour to Plymouth Sound’  and

Dr James Davey (National Maritime Museum Greenwich), on ‘The Imprisoned Emperor : the Royal Navy and war against Napoleon, 1803 – 1815’

with talks by Dr Annika Bautz   (Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Plymouth University) on ‘War, prize money, and reading : Napoleon and Plymouth Proprietary Library’; Dr James Gregory  (Lecturer in Modern British History, Plymouth University) on ‘“Despicable infatuation!”  Receiving and remembering Napoleon in Plymouth’; and  Clive Charlton  (Visiting Academic, School of Geography, Plymouth University) on ‘Capturing (a likeness of) Napoleon on Plymouth Sound’

Registration 1.30 – 1.45. Conference begins 1.45 and concludes at 6.30.

You can still book tickets to collect on the day, contact:

Peninsula Arts Box Office:  Tel: 01752 585050     Email:

Funded studentships at Plymouth on Histories, Memorialisation and Memory work

The Shah at Tussauds in 1873      Albert Memorial      Beaconsfield memorial parliament Square

To study the nineteenth century is to encounter memory and memorialisation in countless ways. Consider the edifices, from the grand national ‘sites of memory’ which were constructed, such as Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin’s new Palace of Westminster built over three decades (from 1840) or the Altare della Patria designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885 to commemorate Italian unification; or the religious memorialisation as act of national penance which was the Sacré Coeur basilica in Paris (begun in 1875). There was the – now gloriously restored – ‘shrine’ designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott at Kensington (completed 1875) in which the memory of Albert the Good was combined with representations of Christian virtues and a Victorian perspective on the progress of the sciences and arts. There were powerful imperial sites of memory such as that erected at Bibighar, Kanpur (Cawnpore) in 1860.

Nineteenth-century memorialisation also includes literary works as varied as Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam (completed 1849) or Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (begun 1909); national works of necrology such as the French La Nouvelle Biographie Générale (from 1853) and the British Dictionary of National Biography (from 1885); and the thousands of published (and privately printed) works of biography and autobiography. There are also the humbler artefacts of family and personal memory such as mourning jewellery and death-bed photography.

From multi-volume national historiography such as Heinrich von Treitschke’s Deutsche Geschichte im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (1879–94), to the velvet-cased daguerreotype of the bourgeois home, the nineteenth-century embraced and developed varied technologies of memorialisation.

PUNCS is therefore delighted to advertise the following:

Plymouth University,  Faculty of Arts and Humanities Studentships:

full-funded PhD studentship opportunities

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is offering doctoral studentships for student-led research projects that directly relate to the theme of histories, memorialisation and memory work, which is to be a key focus of the University’s new Creative Arts and Humanities Research Institute (CAHRI).

Studentship proposals are welcome from a variety of disciplinary and /or cross- and inter-disciplinary perspectives, but particularly linked to research excellence including the following areas:

Architecture, Design and Environment; History and Art History; English and Creative Writing; Visual Arts

Further details are to be found at:

If you are reading this as someone interested in the nineteenth-century, browse through the PUNCS staff pages to see our research interests and publications!

Primrose Day         Victoria and bust of Albert

Collecting Texts and Manuscripts, 1660 – 1860: Conference 17 April 2015


Yesterday was the final day of the international conference held at Plymouth ‘Collecting Texts and Manuscripts, 1660 – 1860’ which was organised by Dr Annika Bautz, founding member of PUNCS.

There was rich intellectual fare on offer, and papers within the PUNCS sphere included: Susan Leedham on the Cottonian collection now at Plymouth; Annika Bautz on the Proprietary Library at Plymouth; Catherine Delafield on letter writing and 19th century life-writing; Per Widen on creating a patriotic history for Sweden, 1815-1835; James Gregory, on John Whittaker’s golden Magna Carta; Shayne Husbands on Satire and the Bibliomania; Emma Marigliano on the Portico Library at Manchester and Alexis Wolf on the manuscript collection of Martha Wilmot.