maggy roberts illustrations

Pickwick illustration for The Eyre Affair

Notes on Dodo illustration
The red numbers next to the text relate to notes on the page below.

'...This illustration, here rendered in rough by Maggy Roberts of the Carmarthen college of art, is an attempt to take the 'layering' of the book one step further. The picture is filled with detail which the observant reader will find delight in uncovering; a sort of cross between Kit William's Masquerade and Holliday's illustrations for the original Hunting of the Snark.
Firstly and central to the picture is Pickwick himself, looking like every other pet that one might have taken to vet to have a jab or something. He has no wings because he's a Version 1.2 and they didn't get the sequence complete until V 1.7. The dodos queuing up with their owners in front of a desk clerk named Crick(1) are all different shapes and sizes (2) indicating that gene splicing is not an exact art and all the owners are talking about the different versions - the same way car enthusiasts might compare engine sizes.

The Thylacine that the inspector tells Thursday was 'decanted (3) without ears' is the technical term for a Tasmanian Wolf, a carnivorous marsupial that died out in a Hobart zoo in the thirties, hence his lapel badge. In the dodo queue a confused Thylacine owner is being directed to where his pet can also be registered - after all, if dodos, why not great auks, mammoths or even stella sea cows(4)? (for the two latter you'd need a large backyard and plenty of carpet cleaner.)

The ring that the inspector is clipping onto Pickwick's leg has the legend: TN 8128 V1.2 which means 'Thursday Next, the fourth perfect number(5) and the version of the dodo. On the wall at the back are two posters; one which has an Ammonite/dodo logo and another hastily produced by SpecOps-11 to warn against 'Illegal Gene Splicing'.

On the table are a couple of bits and bobs. There is a thimble which you might recall was the prize given to Alice by the dodo after the Caucus race in Alice in Wonderland.(6) A clearer reference to Lewis Carroll might be the dodo himself as it is theorised that the dodo in Alice represents the author himself as he had a stutter and often introduced himself as 'Do-do-dodgson'. Behind and in the window in reverse are the words 'Pitt Rivers' which is the museum in Oxford where Lewis Carroll and certainly Sir John Tenniel (7) would have viewed a stuffed dodo.

Today the Pitt-Rivers museum(8) contains the most modern rendition of a stuffed dodo (a relative of the dove) and also a foot and a beak, still with dried flesh upon them and undoubtedly the source of the DNA that brought Pickwick and the others back from extinction.

That's about all we've put in the picture so far except to say that as a special homage to Lewis Carroll, his likeness is preserved in the features of the inspector.....'

Text Notes

(1) Crick and Watson and Wilkins and Franklin discovered the nature and importance of DNA in the fifties. I think Mycroft probably had a hand in it, too.

(2) One has a peacock's tail. Another has three legs.

(3) Decanting was the term used in Huxley's Brave New World for cloned births.

(4) A large sea mammal, a bit like a Manatee and the basis for Mermaid legends, so the story goes. I neglected to check the spelling so this is my public apology to Steller's sea cow fans everywhere - and to Georg Wilhelm Steller, German naturalist and explorer who died in 1746. There is also a Steller's sea lion, jay and eider (a sort of duck, one presumes). You heard it here first.

(5) A perfect number is a number which is the sum of its divisors. 6 is the first as its divisors are 1, 2 & 3. The next is 28 (1+2+4+7+14) and after that 496 and 8128. There are only 27 so far discovered, the largest of which has 26,790 digits. All the numbers in my books have some sort of relevance. Since this illustration wasn't used and rather than waste a good number, '8128' became the number of Thursday's room at the 'Finis Hotel' (which incidentally is also an anagram of my agent - boy, am I giving a lot away today!)

(6) The rest of the animals in the Caucus race were given a comfit, the box of which is just behind the thimble. It is marked 'Caucus brand comfits'.

(7) John Tenniell was the original illustrator of Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the looking glass.

(8) No it isn't. It's the Oxford Natural History museum, but 'Pitt-Rivers' sounds better.

For a link to Maggy's website, click HERE.

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