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Storytelling in Miniature

George Cruikshank’s
Hop-O’-My-thumb

The brilliant visual satirist George Cruikshank published more than 6,000 graphic works, though he was most known during his lifetime for his book illustrations for popular authors of the day. His artwork included caricatures, social and political satires, pamphlets, drawings, and self-published books. He was self-educated and self-trained as an artist and had a strong and idiosyncratic personality. Later in life he became involved in the Temperance Movement, after which his art became even more focused on social reform.In the mid-1800s Cruikshank rewrote four fairy tales—“Cinderella and the Glass Slipper,” “The History of Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Puss-in-Boots,” and “Hop-O’-My-Thumb and the Seven-League Boots”—and published them with his illustrations in George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library.

“Hop-O’-My-Thumb” was originally told by the French author Charles Perrault (1628–1703) in his Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, subtitled, Tales of Mother Goose. In this fairytale the youngest of seven brothers from a poor woodcutter’s family uses his superior wisdom to keep his siblings safe from an ogre with unusual footwear.