Born in Bloomsbury in 1792, he was the son of a Scottish painter, Isaac Cruikshank, and apparently his talent was such that he could draw as soon as he could write. Despite gaining an early reputation for his caricatures and political and social satires, George Cruikshank is most acclaimed for his literary illustrations; notably Dickens’s ‘Sketches by Boz’ and ‘Oliver Twist’. With an oeuvre of more than 15,000 sketches and contributions to over 850 books and publications (including ‘The Scourge’ (1811 – 1816) and ‘The Meteor’ (1813 – 1814), Pierce Egan’s ‘Life in London’ (1821 onwards), Grimm’s ‘Popular Tales’ (1824 – 1826)’, Novels by Harrison Ainsworth, Thackeray’s ‘Legend of the Rhine’ and ‘Paradise Lost’. Cruikshank also issued for some years from 1835 an illustrated ‘Comic Almanack’, one of the predecessors of ‘Punch’) Cruikshank still found time to pursue other interests, memorably, a late interest in oil painting, enrolling in the Academy Schools as a student at the age of 64. He did not achieve much success in that technique, but the Tate Gallery houses his ‘The Worship of Bacchus’.
Other collections of his works can be found in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums.