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Sir John Gilbert, Artist and Illustrator, 1817-1897, Bibliography

Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897) was a prolific nineteenth century artist and illustrator. After a brief spell in his youth working as an estate agent's clerk, he chose to follow his passion for art.

Gilbert was largely self taught, save for some direction in the use of colour by George Lance, and practised in a number of media including: Oil, watercolour, fresco, pen and ink. He was as adept at drawing on wood or stone as he was drawing on paper, and during his long life he was a prolific artist. So much so that he became known as "The Scott of Painting" (Sir Walter Scott being a similarly prolific writer).

An example of a book engraving by Sir John Gilbert

In terms of the print media he made his name first with Punch and then with the Illustrated London News (for whom he produced around thirty thousand illustrations in forty years). Latterly, his drawings also appeared in the London Journal.

With such diverse experience and expertise, Gilbert naturally became one of the most sought after book illustrators of his time. He seems to have had a particular interest in providing illustrations for poetry books, but his work also appeared in childrens' books, novels, and a host of non fiction subjects. The list below is not comprehensive but it includes many of the important books which Sir John Gilbert illustrated, either alone or in collaboration with other illustrators of the time:

UK editions unless stated, not necessarily firsts:

  • 1842 The Book of British Ballads - edited by Samuel Carter Hall - published by Jeremiah How
  • 1853 The Lady of the Lake - by Sir Walter Scott - published by Adam and Charles Black
  • 1853 Influence - by Mrs Mackarness - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1854 Johnson's Lives of the British Poets - National Illustrated Library - in four volumes - completed by William Hazlitt - published by Nathaniel Cooke (this being a later edition)
  • 1854 Boys at Home - by C. Adams - published by D. Appleton and Company (New York)
  • 1854 Joan of Arc and Minor Poems - by Robert Southey - published by George Routledge and Co.
  • 1854 The Flitch of Bacon or, The Custom of Dunmow - by William Harrison Ainsworth - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1855 Ballads: Romantic, Fantastical and Humorous - by William Harrison Ainsworth - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1855 Fairy Tales - by Countess D'Aulnoy - published by George Routledge & Co
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this book was bound by James Hayday
  • 1856 The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - new edition - published by George Routledge
  • 1857 The Lord of the Isles, with all his introductions and the editor's notes - by Sir Walter Scott - published by Adam and Charles Black
  • 1858 The Plays of Shakespeare - by William Shakespeare - in three volumes - edited by Howard Staunton - published by George Routledge & Co. (New York)
  • 1858 The Home Affections Portrayed by The Poets - by various authors - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1858 The Poetical Works of Oliver Goldsmith - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1858 The Poetical Works of William Cowper, illustrated By John Gilbert - fourth edition - by William Cowper - published by George Routledge
  • 1858 Might Not Right or, Stories of the Discovery and Conquest of America - by Mrs. E. Burrows - published by Griffith and Farran
  • 1859 The Poems of William Wordsworth - William Wordsworth - selected and edited by Robert Aris Willmott - published by Routledge, Warnes & Routledge
  • 1859 The Collected Songs of Charles Mackay - published by George Routledge & Co
  • 1859 The Proverbs of Solomon, Illustrated by Historical Parallels from Drawings by John Gilbert - preface and introduction by James Hamilton - published by Robert Carter and Brothers (New York)
  • 1859 English Country Life: Consisting of Descriptions of Rural Habits, Country Scenery and the Seasons - by Thomas Miller - published by Routledge, Warnes and Routledge
  • 1860 Poems of James Montgomery - selected and edited by Robert Aris Willmott - published by Routledge, Warne & Routledge
  • 1860 The Pilgrim's Progress from this World to that Which is to Come - John Bunyan - A new edition with explanatory notes by Offor - published by Routledge Warne & Routledge
  • 1861 Poems - by Eliza Cook - published by Routledge, Warne, & Routledge
  • 1861 The Boy's Book of Ballads - published by Bell & Daldy
  • 1861 Great Expectations - The Works of Charles Dickens - Household Edition - in two volumes - published by James G. Gregory (New York)
  • 1861 The Constable of the Tower: An Historical Romance - in three volumes - by William Harrison Ainsworth - published by Chapman & Hall
  • 1862 Young Benjamin Franklin or, The Right Road Through Life: A Boy's Book on a Boy's Own Subject - by Henry Mayhew - published by Harper & Brothers (New York)
  • 1864 Shakespeare Memorial 1564 - 1864 - by William Shakespeare - published by S. O. Beeton
  • 1865 Household Poems - by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - published by Ticknor & Fields (Boston)
  • 1866 Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie - by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - published by Bell and Daldy
  • 1867 A Thousand and One Gems of English poetry - selected and arranged by Charles Mackay - published by George Routledge and Sons
  • 1869 Warne's Victoria Picture Spelling Book - compiled and edited by Mrs R Valentine - published by Frederick Warne & Co
  • 1873 The illustrated Library Shakspeare - by George Cruikshank and R. Dudley - three volumes - published by William Mackenzie
  • 1873 Chronological Pictures of English History, Containing Portraits of the Eminent Persons, With Illustrations of the Civil, Political, Ecclesiastical, Naval, and Military Transactions, the Discoveries, Inventions, Arts, Sciences & Improvements, of each Period - designed and drawn by John Gilbert, President of the Society of Painters in Water - published by Edward Stanford (+ Thomas Varty + Roake)
  • 1875 The Works of Wilkie Collins, New Illustrated Library Edition, in seven volumes - published by Chatto & Windus
  • 1875 The Hanging Of The Crane - by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - published by James R. Osgood And Company (Boston)
  • 1876 The Works of Shakspeare -Imperial Edition - by William Shakespeare - edited by Charles Knight - published by Virtue & Company
  • 1879 The Child's Picture Scrap Book - various contributors - published by George Routledge & Sons
  • 1880 The Works of Edward George Lytton - published by George Routledge and Sons, London
  • 1890 The Illustrated Library of Shakespeare - in nine volumes - by William Shakespeare - published by William Mackenzie
  • 1892 English Pen Artists of To-Day, Examples of Their Work with Some Criticisms and Appreciations - by Charles G. Harper - published by Macmillan (New York)
  • 1893 Reproductions by the Collotype Process of the Pictures Presented to the Guildhall Art Gallery of the Corporation of the City of London - by Sir John Gilbert, R.A. - edited by A.G. Temple - published by Blades, East & Blades
  • 1895 Hide and Seek - by Wilkie Collins - published by Chatto and Windus