George Cattermole (1800 – 1868) was an English painter and illustrator. A friend of Charles Dickens he produced illustrations for two of his novels.


Early Life and Career.

George Cattermole was born at Dickleburgh, Norfolk on 10 August 1800. At the age of fourteen he began working as an architectural and topographical draughtsman; afterwards he contributed designs to be engraved in the annuals then so popular; thence he progressed into water-colour painting, becoming an associate of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1822, and a full member in 1833.

He achieved fame for his illustrations in John Britton’s publications on historic architecture (1807 – 1836) and Walter Scott’s collected works (1833).


Charles Dickens and George Cattermole.

George Cattermole was a friend of Charles Dickens, and collabourated on illustrations for his works including The Old Curiosity Shop (1840 – 1841) and Barnaby Rudge (1841). Both works were published initially in serial form in the weekly periodical Master Humphrey’s Clock, which lasted from 1840 to 1841.

The friendship between the two may have started at a meeting at Gore House between 1836 – 1837, following which Dickens was warmly attracted to Cattermole (Source: Shlicke).

On 20 August 1839, Cattermole married a distant relative of Charles Dickens’s mother, Elizabeth Barrow.

Both Cattermole and Dickens enjoyed socialising at each others houses as well as at clubs both were members of, including the Shakespeare Club.


Detail of Cattermole’s illustration of the dead Nell lying on a bed, illustrated for The Old Curiosity Shop.

In 1845, Dickens persuaded Cattermole to join his amateur theatrical group for a performance of Ben Jonson’s Every Man In His Humour at Miss Kelly’s Theatre. Cattermole played the role of Wellbred.

Towards the end of his life George Cattermole suffered financial issues. Charles Dickens tried to help secure a pension for him from the Royal Academy and the government. He also tried to raise private funds for his widow and children after Cattermole’s death.

Cattermole’s most noted illustration for Dickens was the image of the dead Nell lying on a bed, for The Old Curiosity Shop.




George Cattermole died on 24 July 1868. He was buried at West Norwood Cemetery, near the tomb of John Britton, who had first employed him as a draughtsman in 1814.


Further Reading.