Sussex lecturer helps honour 'Alice' wood engravers in Brighton

Rejected proof of the white rabbit for Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Vol 20 of Dalziel Archive, 1865. Ref. 1913,0415.181. By Permission of the Trustees of The British Museum. All Rights Reserved © Sylph Editions, 2016.

Cover and spine for The People’s Edition of Dickens’s Oliver Twist. From volume 20 of the Dalziel Archive, 1865. Ref. 1913,0415.181. By Permission of the Trustees of The British Museum. All Rights Reserved © Sylph Editions, 2016

Dalziel after Johann Baptist Zwecker, ‘Surf-Swimming’. Dalziel Archive Vol. XXII (1867), British Museum reg. no. 1913,0415.183. By Permission of the Trustees of The British Museum. All Rights Reserved © Sylph Editions, 2016

A University of Sussex lecturer has spoken of her joy at being involved in plans to install a blue plaque in Brighton to commemorate the lives of two brothers who left their mark on the Victorian age.

Dr Bethan Stevens, Senior Lecturer in English and Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Sussex, is the Director of the Dalziel Project, which sets out to uncover, investigate and interpret the work of brothers George and Edward Dalziel: wood engravers best known for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.

Having supported the efforts of the Brighton & Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, Dr Stevens will be speaking at the unveiling of the plaque by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Dee Simson, at a ceremony on Clifton Road on Friday 26 April at 12noon.

Dr Stevens said: “The Dalziels had enormous cultural power at a key moment in history, shaping the way people visualised things. It’s wonderful that their lives – and their link to Brighton – is to be celebrated in this way.”

Dalziel Brothers was the leading wood engraving firm in Victorian London. Wood engraving was the medium of mass production, illustrating books, magazines, catalogues and packaging – everything from Dickens and Rossetti illustrations to medical journals and plumbers’ diagrams.

George and Edward lived in Clifton Road, Brighton, from 1888 to 1902 and it was here that they wrote their memoir, A Record of 50 Years Work.

Roger Amerena, chairman of the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel, will deliver a welcome address at the unveiling. He said: “The Dalziel plaque is the first for Clifton Road – and the panel is delighted that the lives of these men will be permanently remembered.”

The Dalziel family were originally from Northumberland. George Dalziel was the first to move down to London, travelling there by sailing ship in 1835. In 1839, Edward arrived – and later Margaret, John and Thomas Dalziel joined them. The firm prospered for more than 50 years and George and Edward established a base in Brighton at the end of their working lives.

Often working alongside household names such as John Tenniel, the Rossetti siblings, John Everett Millais and Frederick Leighton, Dalziel Brothers produced many landmark images – including all the illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice books of 1865 and 1871 as well as numerous Pre-Raphaelite illustrations to Edward Moxon’s famous edition of Tennyson’s Poems (1857).

The Dalziel Project, led by Dr Stevens and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has been working in partnership with the British Museum, which holds the Dalziel archive of an incredible 54,000 engravers’ proofs.

Thanks to the work of the project, this archive has now been catalogued, photographed and made accessible online.

Find out more about the Dalziel Project online and look through the archives in their virtual exhibition. Read more about Dr Stevens' research and events on the Dalziel brothers' work here.

You can also follow their updates on Twitter @dalzielproject

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By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Wednesday, 8 May 2019

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