Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Terrific Register

Writing to his friend W.H. Wills in 1851, Charles Dickens recalled his boyhood fascination with a periodical known as The Terrific Register.  Every issue featured a grisly woodcut of some horrid murder, disembowelment, beheading, or massacre, and Dickens thought the subscription well worth the cost: "I used, when I was at school, to take in the Terrific Register, making myself unspeakably miserable, and frightening my very wits out of my head, for the small charge of a penny weekly; which, considering that there was an illustration to every number, in which there was always a pool of blood, and at least one body, was cheap." The images seem to have had quite a lasting effect on the young Dickens, as many of them re-appeared in his mature works; Mr. Foscue, the 'Miser that eats himself' may have been one of the inspirations for Ebenezer Scrooge!

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