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Peer Reviewed

A Draft List of Published book and periodical contributions by Robert Seymour

Brian Maidment, University of Salford

Early Work 1823-1830

Seymour worked exclusively on wood, for the publishers Knight and Lacey in particular, from 1823 until 1827 when Knight and Lacey went bankrupt. His output during this period is obscure, although in all probability prolific, and was essentially the outcome of a failed career as a painter. Engen talks of him ‘drawing on wood blocks for various magazines and books’ during this period, and quotes the DNB comment that ‘nothing seemed to come amiss to him. He was as much at home with “Don Juan” as the “Book of Martyrs”, and passed with the confidence of youth from illustrating Demosthenes and Ovid to Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Gay, and Southey’. (Engen 233-234). I have not so far managed to trace these publications, and much of Seymour’s early work seems likely to remain unidentified.
Pocket Magazine
[33i] Arliss's Pocket Magazine
Title page
Knight and Lacey published, alongside scissors-and-paste multi-volume series of trials, theatrical gossip and anecdotes of artists, a number of magazines illustrated by wood engraving which were beginning to think through the ‘useful knowledge’ agenda for a new mass market. Their most significant publication in this field was the pioneering Mechanic’s Magazine (1823 on) which translated technical processes and visual information into small scale wood engraved formats for a new artisan readership.

But in the mid-twenties the firm also published the Library for the People (a pre-Penny Magazine serial encyclopaedia), the Housekeeper’s Magazine (an early version of the Family Economist, the Adventurer of the Nineteenth Century (an early journal of travel reportage) and, for a while, Arliss’s Pocket Magazine, [33 i] which, launched in 1820, pre-figured the Mirror of Literature in important ways despite the crude and tiny wood engraving which formed its illustrations. It may well be that Seymour did jobbing work for some of these many periodical ventures. Very little of the work was signed, so precise attribution is difficult.
Heseltine in his ODNB entry also gives the following books as certainly illustrated by Seymour in these years:
[1] William Robinson The History of Enfield (2 vols., 1823).
[2] Public Characters of All Nations (Knight and Lacey 3 vols., 1823).
[3] Le Diable Boiteux (1824) Presumably an edition of Le Sage’s work, which I have been unable to trace.
[4] Mary Sherwood My Uncle Timothy (Knight & Lacey; Harrison & Stephens 1825).