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Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne) (1815-1882)


Hablot Knight Browne (1815-1882), known as 'Phiz'

Under the name of Phiz, Hablot Knight Browne became known as Charles Dickens’ essential illustrator, responsible for imaging the immortal characters to 10 of the major novels, from The Pickwick Papers to A Tale of Two Cities. He was also associated with the popular fiction of Charles Lever, his illustrations for which communicated his love of life, especially its equestrian aspects. A versatile artist, in technique as well as subject, he could etch his own designs, and also painted in oil and watercolour.
Descended from Huguenot refugees, H K Browne was born in Lower Kennington Lane, London in June or July 1815, and baptised on 21 December 1815 at St Mary’s, Lambeth. He was brought up as the fourteenth child of the merchant, William Lowder Browne. However, it is now known (as the result of the researches of Valerie Browne Lester) that he was the illegitimate son of W L Browne’s daughter, Kate, and Captain Nicolas Hablot, a cavalry officer in Napoleon’s imperial guard.

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