Studies in Literature and Culture
“John Bull and Erin, the first a stout healthy boy and the latter his sister a very promising girl”: Figaro in London and the Depiction of Ireland in the 1830s
← 258 | 259 →Paweł Hamera
The pictorial press is one of the significant facets of the Victorian period, and the most recognisable and iconic Victorian illustrated periodical is the satirical weekly Punch. Apart from its political cartoons that adorn many publications on the Victorian era, the magazine is known for its denigrating portrayals of the Irish (Curtis 1971; De Nie 2004; Williams 2003). Punch was not the first illustrated magazine that entertained Victorians. It was preceded by such periodicals as The Penny Magazine and Figaro in London. The introduction of these magazines with woodblock engravings opened the floodgates and a large number of illustrated periodicals were published and devoured by visually-starved Victorians. Figaro was one of the first successful illustrated satirical magazines that paved the way for Punch. The periodical, however, has been overlooked in studies devoted to visual representations of Ireland.
The first number of Figaro was published in 1831 and the last one in 1839. The periodical is considered the forerunner to Punch. To begin with, both editors of Figaro, Gilbert Abbot á Beckett and Henry Mayhew, were later on prominent staff members of Punch. Arthur William á Beckett, the son of the first editor of Figaro, Gilbert Abbot á Beckett, states that in Figaro “we can trace the germs of the coming Punch” (Á Beckett 1903, 27). In addition, Arthur á Beckett posits that because there are so many similarities between the two periodicals it was his father who created Punch. Richard D. Altick states, on the other hand, that in “Figaro cuts there was...
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