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Woodpeckings: Victorian prints, book illustration and word-image narratives

Woodpeckings: Victorian prints, book illustration and word-image narratives


Friday 16th – Saturday 17th June 2017


Stevenson Lecture Theatre, British Museum


Organised by the Dalziel Project

This two-day event presents new perspectives on Victorian prints, book illustration and word-image narratives, brought into dialogue with scholarly interpretations of the Dalziel Archive, a phenomenal resource for researchers of nineteenth-century prints.

The Dalziel Archive has been made newly accessible through the Dalziel Project, funded by the AHRC. The Dalziel family led the most substantial London firm of wood engravers; they were, to borrow the contemporary slang, prolific “woodpeckers”, or “peckers”. At this time, wood engraving was the chief medium of mass production, profusely illustrating books, periodicals and ephemera: everything from Dickens and Trollope to fitness manuals and chocolate advertisements… Between 1839 and 1893 the Dalziels made around 54,000 prints, including all the wood engravings for Lewis Caroll’s Alice books, and Pre-Raphaelite wood engravings after John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.

Our conference brings this new material into the rich field of word-image scholarship. Papers range from analyses of pictorial initials made for canonical Victorian novels, to theories of art instruction and interrogations of the album form. Topics include:

  • Medium and replication technologies
  • Relationships between media: e.g wood engraving, drawing and photography
  • Questions of authorship
  • Digital networks and illustration
  • Rethinking pattern and textual ornament
  • Wordlessness and the image
  • Print and seriality
  • Non-authorized illustration, revisions and interventions
  • Tactile reading and the Victorian pop-up book
  • Affective encounters with the archive


During the conference there will be a round table and sessions inviting participants to examine archival material in the Prints and Drawings study room.



Caroline Arscott (Courtauld), Geoff Belknap (University of Leicester), Neil Bousfield (Norwich University of the Arts), Laurel Brake (Birkbeck), Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), Esther Chadwick (British Museum), Douglas Downing (Independant Scholar), Hannah Field (Sussex), Michael Goodman (Cardiff), Georgina Grant (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust), Natalie Hume (Courtauld), Lorraine Janzen Kooistra (Ryerson), Peter Lawrence (Society of Wood Engravers), Brian Maidment (Liverpool John Moores), Katherine Martin (V&A), Susan Matthews (Roehampton), George Mind (Sussex), Felicity Myrone (British Library), Tom Mole (Edinburgh), Sheila O’Connell (British Museum), Clare Pettitt (Kings), Isabel Seligman (British Museum), David Skilton (Cardiff), Lindsay Smith (Sussex), Bethan Stevens (Sussex), Julia Thomas (Cardiff), Mark Turner (Kings) and Kiera Vaclavik (Queen Mary).

Generously supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Museum and the University of Sussex.





Early Bird (available until 6th May 2017):

Concessionary Price (students and unwaged) - £25

Standard Price - £35


Full Price (7th May onwards):

Concessionary Price (students and unwaged) - £35

Standard Price - £45


Prices include lunch and refreshments on both days of the conference.  

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Woodpeckings: Light Buffet Supper and Wine at Truckles Wine Bar



Please join us on Friday 16th June from 6.45pm for a light buffet supper and wine at Truckles Wine Bar in Bloomsbury.
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