© National Portrait Gallery, London
by Harry Furniss Click on the links below to find out more
pen and ink, circa 1880-1910
10 5/8 in. x 9 3/4 in. (270 mm x 248 mm)
- Harry Furniss (1854-1925), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 435 portraits, Sitter in 13 portraits.
This drawing of a prostrate Dickens, which the Punch caricaturist Harry Furniss used to illustrate the chapter he wrote on the author in his book Some Victorian Men (1925), was inspired by popular reports of Dickens being worn out by his intensely emotional readings of Nancy's murder from Oliver Twist. Posthumously, Dickens was often portrayed with the characters he invented materialising around him. Here the murder scene appears on the wall behind, creating the effect of Bill Sikes clubbing the author himself. This motif reflected the commonly held belief that the overworked author's creative exertions had hastened his own death.
- NPG 3565: Charles Dickens (variant version)
The Liberals defeat the Conservatives, and Gladstone becomes Prime Minister for the second time, taking over from Disraeli, who retires from politics.The MP for Northampton and atheist Charles Bradlaugh, refuses to swear on the Bible and so forfeits his right to take his seat. Despite having the support of Gladstone and J.S Mill, it takes six years before he can take his seat, after which he pushes through a new Oaths Act (1888).
Art and science
Thomas Huxley delivers his address 'Science and Culture' at the opening of Josiah Mason's science college in Birmingham (published the following year). Huxley argues that the study of modern literature, combined with knowledge of science, should be promoted in education above classical literature, echoing the claim made by the poet and critic Matthew Arnold. Huxley, an early advocate of 'Darwinism', did much to popularise evolutionary theory.
Buenos Aires finally becomes the permanent capital of Argentina, following sixty years of political debates around the issue. The city was federalised, politically separated from the Buenos Aires Province, and placed under direct control of the national government. Despite allegations of vote buying, Cecil Rhodes is elected member of parliament for Barkly West in the Cape Colony, marking the start of his political career in South Africa.