14th April 1776. ‘Grangerising’.

‘The dog is a Whig, I do not like to see a Whig in any dress, but I hate to see a Whig in parson’s gown’. Dr. Johnson about Rev. Granger.

Today in 1776 the Rev. James Granger of Shiplake, Oxfordshire, was administering the sacrament when he suffered an apoplectic fit and died next morning.

Granger’s History illustrated by William Beckford.

However it wasn’t the nature of his going for which he is remembered by literary scholars, but in the eponymous term ‘Grangerising’ which was the cutting illustrations from other books, either by authors to illustrate their own work, or generally. Many books were of towns and cities or notable individuals.

In 1769 Granger had published his Biographical History of England from Egbert the Great to the Revolution of 1769, with blank leaves on which could be stuck engraved portraits and other illustrations. Many ‘extra-illustrated’ or ‘Grangerised’ volumes were cannibalised from other books to be so inter-leaved.

‘Grangerised’ (added illustrations) volume by J Bull MP.

Through his writing Granger came into contact with many collectors of engraved portraits acquiring about 14,000 only to be dispersed in 1778 after his death.

Before the publication of Grainger’s History in 1769, 5 shillings was a good price for an English portrait; afterward the appearance of the ornamented history, the cost rose 5 times and few books were found to be found unmutilated.

One unique copy of Granger’s History is that inter-leaved by the wealthy Richard Bull MP by a series of 1700 letters between himself and Granger.(1)

However the writer Horace Walpole a friend of Bull, blamed him for the rise in price of illustrations, but despite which many would have been lost to posterity.

Bull extra illustrated c 70 books apart from Grainger’s 35 large folio volumes, including his copy of William Barrett’s History of The Antiquities of the City of Bristol, with much of the cutting and pasting being done by his daughters.(2)


Northcourt, Isle of Wight (IOW).

Bull’s library of 500 illustrated volumes, many topographical, (200 pre 1700), included those bequeathed by Walpole, which he then bound in red morocco for his library at Northcourt IOW.

Their sale at Sotheby’s in 1881 took 6 days.

In 1856 booksellers Joseph Lilly and Joseph Willis offered for sale an illustrated copy of Granger’s History, Lilly’s with 1300 portraits bound in 27 volumes sold at £42: Willis’s 19 volumes with 3,000 portraits at £38.10 shillings, a large amount at the time.

The irony is that the term ‘Grangerising’ only came into being a 100 years after the parson’s death so he is known more by the literati for the practice than his monumental work of history.

(1) One of the most important was prepared by Richard Bull MP whose 14,000 prints in 36 volumes are now in Huntington Library, California.

(2) Bristol Antiquary George Weare Brackenridge was a noted extra illustrator of Grainger interleaving with print and text.



geograph.org.uk//Pic of Northcourt.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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