The Book of Wonderful Characters
Printmaker James Caulfield (1764-1826) spent much of his career publishing illustrated books about 'remarkable persons'. He began his first series around 1788 and continued it sporadically from 1790 to 1795, with books on a similar theme continuing to appear in the first decades of the nineteenth century. More than forty years after his death, this collection of biographies (produced in collaboration with Henry Wilson (fl. 1820-30)) was republished in 1869. The edition's introduction explains that the renewed interest in these characters comes from the fact that 'we have nearly lost all, and are daily losing what little remains of, our individuality'. The vignettes, accompanied by engravings of each individual, describe a wide-ranging group - from the man who died aged 152 to a 'remarkable glutton' to a woman who lived on the smell of flowers - their only common factor being that they were in some way 'wonderful'.