Welcome to my image gallery of Victorian man-eaters. I have the images grouped by the type of “man-eater” featured. Clicking on the image will bring up a larger version.
Man-Eating Trees and Plants
The following images are the original illustrations of Frank Aubrey’s (Frank Atkins) novel The Devil Tree of El Dorado published in 1896.
Below is an image of “The Upas, or Poison-Tree, in the Island of Java,” Frank Danby’s 1820 painting that was inspired by Erasmus Darwin’s poem The Loves of Plants. This work was exhibited at the British Institute in 1822 and can now be seen at the V&A in London. Although the work should probably be categorized as Romantic rather than Victorian, the subject matter–a type of tree which poisons the air for several miles around it–sparked the imaginations of many late-century writers. In a review of the painting, The New Monthly Magazine wrote:
“Mr. Danby has invested this fearful and difficult subject, so often the theme of poets, and of travellers no less poetical, with all the adjuncts of terror. The extensive distance, to which imagination must fix a bound; a shadowy valley, the appropriate home of the angel of death; the desolate foreground, which vampires and goules [sic] might make their trysting place; one human figure extended a blackened corse, imparting all the reality of despair to another, who sands aghast; the all pervading gloom, as though light itself were poisoned–these tell the mysterious tale as well as a pencil can unfold it. (466)
An Assortment of Victorian “Man-Eaters”:
Here is a link to a fantastic flicker slideshow that features many illustrations of man-eating (or killing) plants and animals. The images are collected from J.W. Buel’s hard to find 1889 work Sea and Land.