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Darwin Correspondence Project

4.3 Alfred Crowquill, caricature

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One of the satires on Darwin’s Origin of Species was drawn by the prolific designer and illustrator Alfred Henry Forrester, who used the pseudonym ‘Alfred Crowquill’. His name appears prominently at bottom left of this print as the draughtsman (‘delt.’), but the publisher W.H. Mason, named at bottom right, seems to have invented the subject (‘inv.’). A bewildered-looking Darwin sits cheek by jowl with a clown in motley and is approached on familiar terms by monkeys and a hippopotamus in human clothes. Above them, snakes coil round the trees while more monkeys cavort in the branches. If this is Eden restored, it appears a place of menace and disorder. The anthropomorphised animals and teeming grotesque details are reminiscent of some of the ‘phantasmagoria’ designs which Crowquill produced for the Christmas numbers of the Illustrated London News, like ‘What I saw in the fire’ (21 December 1861) and ‘Gathering for the pantomime, a dream of chancifancia’ (24 December 1870). ‘Darwin’s Origin of Species’ is likely to have appeared somewhere between these dates, or not long after; Crowquill died in 1872. The prominence of the credits to artist and publisher might suggest that this satirical flight of fancy was published as a separate sheet, rather than in a journal. 

  • physical location Darwin archive, Cambridge University Library 

  • accession or collection number DAR 221.4.267  

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image Alfred Henry Forrester, pseud. Alfred Crowquill, from an idea of W.H. Mason’s. 

  • date of creation unknown, c.1861-1871 

  • computer-readable date c.1861-01-01 to 1871-12-31 

  • medium and material wood engraving? 

  • references and bibliography Article on Forrester by Simon Houfe in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Simon Cooke, ‘”If not a genius”? Alfred Crowquill as an illustrator and applied artist’, online at the Victorian Web,, accessed April 2021. J. van Wyhe, ‘Iconography’, p. 185. 



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