George Cruikshank (27 September 1792 – 1 February 1878) was a British caricaturist and book illustrator, praised as the “modern Hogarth” during his life. His book illustrations for his friend Charles Dickens, and many other authors, reached an international audience.
Work with Charles Dickens
For Charles Dickens, Cruikshank illustrated Sketches by Boz (1836), The Mudfog Papers (1837–38) and Oliver Twist (1838). Cruikshank even acted in Dickens’s amateur theatrical company.
On 30 December 1871 Cruikshank published a letter in The Times which claimed credit for much of the plot of Oliver Twist. The letter launched a fierce controversy around who created the work.
Cruikshank was not the first Dickens illustrator to make such a claim. Robert Seymour who illustrated the Pickwick Papers suggested that the idea for that novel was originally his; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any specific input.
The friendship between Cruikshank and Dickens soured further when Cruikshank became a fanatical teetotaler in opposition to Dickens’s views of moderation.