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Extra-Illustration in Writing

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Extra-Illustration in Writing


William Macready. Macready's Reminiscences. London: Macmillan & Co., 1875

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “illustration” was not used to mean “an illustrative picture” until 1816. Before then, the most widespread meaning was “an elucidation,” as in the Illustrations of Shakespeare by Francis Douce. In the image shown above,  a brief note to the Rev. H. J. Hedley is inserted following a reference to the death of William Macready’s daughter Lydia. Although on an unrelated topic, it is written on mourning paper (note the thick black border around the letter), demonstrating the lengths to which grangerizers would go to "illustrate" their subjects’ lives when no direct documentary evidence could be found. Extra-illustrated volumes created after the initial craze for grangerizing often included letters as the most immediate, personal kind of “elucidation.”


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