Dolly Varden

It is at this time of year that Dickens becomes a household name. His story ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a stalwart on television and radio with numerous productions and remakes for every following generation. It is in so many ways a timeless tale and worthy of note. But there is a good possibility that you have never heard of #DollyVarden. Dolly Varden is a young lady in Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge. #BarnabyRudge was produced by Dickens during 1840-41 in serial form. It was intended to be Dickens’ first publication in book format but due to publication problems it was actually his fifth published book. If it had been published first, he might have struggled with other books because it is considered to be his weakest effort. Barnaby Rudge is largely set during the Gordon Riots of 1780. The Gordon Riots began as an anti-Catholic protest in London against the Papist Act of 1878. The protests devolved into rioting and looting. The riots also occurred at the height of the American War of Independence and rumours ran that they were influenced by France and Spain in an attempt to weaken Britain.

The mixed method mezzotint pictured is by #SamuelWilliamReynolds (the younger) and is taken from the painting by #WilliamPowellFrith. It was etched in 1844 and published by Thomas Agnew & Sons. Dolly is described by Dickens as “the very pink and pattern of good looks, in a smart little cherry coloured mantle”. A wonderful piece added to my collection..

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