This page shows more examples of Randolph Caldecott's pictures, from some of
his sixteen "Picture Books". These were published annually, in
pairs, from 1878 until his death in 1886, always in time for Christmas: they
were forerunners of the later Christmas Annuals. They were originally priced at One Shilling (5 pence in today's
Randolph Caldecott is believed to be the first
author/illustrator to have negotiated with his Publisher to receive, instead of
a fixed fee, a "Royalty" per book sold: he received one old Penny per
book (there were 12 Pence to the Shilling). The first print run was a
cautious 10,000 copies. They were so popular that
by July 1886, 5 months after his death, over 800,000
copies had been sold.
The books were originally published by George Routledge & Sons, and great
care was taken to reproduce the colours exactly as the artist intended. In
later years, the books were re-issued by Frederick Warne & Co - but by this
time, Randolph had died, and the colours used were brighter but lost the
subtlety of the originals.
reduce download time, each picture is shown in "thumbnail" size.
Click on it for a larger version. Some of
the 16 "Picture Books" are not really Nursery Rhymes, but for
completeness we have listed them all here, in order of publication. Those in italics on this
page are (or will be) described more fully on the "Works"
page or elsewhere: click on any underlined title for more info.
|John Gilpin (1878)|
|The House that Jack Built (1878)|
The Frontispiece is shown here. Compare it with our photo of the house which
Randolph used for his pictures in this book: click here.
For another picture from this book, click here.
If you can download pictures quickly, click on the one to the
left and look for the artist's initials. "R C" is at bottom
left - and another set of initials, "E E" is at bottom
right. Edmund Evans was the engraver and printer whose careful work
(in the original Routledge editions) ensured that Randolph's pictures
appeared as intended.
|The Babes in the Wood (1879)|
In the Frontispiece, shown here, Randolph has depicted himself
"Sore sicke...and like to Dye". Humorous to those who recognised
him - but sadly all too prophetic of his early death only 7 years later.
|The Mad Dog (1879)|
This, with the previous 3 books, was re-issued in Randolph
Caldecott's Picture Book.
| The Three Jovial Huntsmen (1880)|
The original pictures from which this book was published were bought by
Beatrix Potter's father for GB£ 80.
When Randolph published his book, there was some controversy about the
text. Had he plagiarised someone else's work? Why had he not
given due credit to the author? The truth was that he used an old
Lancashire dialect version of a rhyme which, in various versions, had been
circulating for centuries. For two of the pictures, a comparison of
original and later editions, and a sample of the text, click here. Another picture is on one of our Postcards pages: click here.
|Sing a Song for Sixpence (1880)|
When Randolph Caldecott produced this book, the Nursery Rhyme on which it
was based seemed to be just a children's song. But, only 60 years
previously, when the rhyme about "four and twenty black birds" first appeared, it was full of political
significance, based on the "Cato Street Conspiracy" (1820) in
which 24 men (one of whom was black) plotted to murder the entire Cabinet at dinner one night.
When they were discovered, many of them began to tell about the others in
the hope of saving their own lives - hence "the birds began to
sing". Acts of Parliament had just been passed to restrict public
meetings and to take action against any literature considered
"seditious", so there was an upsurge in innocent-seeming poems (or
actions) with hidden meanings.
(This Picture Book, unlike all the others, has its date of
first publication on its front cover - on the Sixpence.)
Queen of Hearts (1881)|
This, with the previous 3 books, was re-issued in Randolph
Caldecott's Picture Book No. 2.
For another illustration,
together with a modern parody of it, click here.
|The Farmer's Boy (1881)|
This is the final picture from the book and the rhyme. It is clear
that the hero of the rhyme is now much grander than the Farmer's Boy that he
used to be!
|The Milkmaid (1882)
For reproductions of some pictures from this book, see our Postcards page.
Diddle Diddle and Baby Bunting (1882)|
An interactive version of this, showing all the illustrations with sound and
music, is available on a Japanese Web-site (in English or Japanese). To
visit it, click here.
Frog he would a-Wooing Go (1883) |
The illustrations in this book, showing animals clothed and behaving like
humans, indicate clearly how Randolph Caldecott influenced the work of
Beatrix Potter. Two of Randolph's pictures still hang in her house in
the Lake District, UK.
For a watercolour sketch used for this book, click here.
|The Fox Jumps Over the Parson's Gate (1883)|
A detail from a colour picture in this book is on our "Family" page: click here and then click on the small picture to
see the whole, enlarged, picture.
For the last picture from this book, click here.
(This photo of front cover: Robin Castle.)
Lasses and Lads
This was a traditional song, dating back to around 1670. The original
had more verses than are reproduced in Randolph's book. The phrase
" 'Twas the Fiddler Play'd It Wrong" is a line from the song and
was the subject of an oil painting by Randolph; see our "Buying" page.
Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross and A Farmer Went Trotting (1884)|
For one of the illustrations to the first of these rhymes, click here.
|Mrs Mary Blaize (1885)
The Great Panjandrum (1885)|
and the Beanstalk (1886, published after Randolph died).
The words of this version were written, in "English hexameters",
by Hallam Tennyson. Randolph Caldecott had only produced rough
sketches by the time of his early death, but the book was published with
these sketches. Randolph was better known than Hallam Tennyson, and so
Randolph's name on the cover is larger than Hallam's.
All the sketches
are black-and-white only, and the book is not at all like the "Picture
Books", being -
much longer (70 pages compared with about 30 for the
smaller in format (214mm high x 170mm wide, compared
with 230 x 210 mm), and
published by Macmillan & Co (London & New York)
instead of Routledge.
For other pictures, see our "Works" page.
of info at top of this page on copies sold: Obituary article by William
Clough published in The Manchester Quarterly, July 1886, quoting the
publishers, Messrs. Routledge. Compare this with the figure of
867,000, from another source, for sales of only the first 12 of the books by
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