This essay approaches Edmund Spenser’s Renaissance masterpiece, The Faerie Queene, through a hitherto unknown series of twenty-four vignette illustrations that the eighteenth-century painter and book illustrator, Thomas Stothard, contributed to the nowadays little-known annual, The Royal Engagement Pocket Atlas, in 1794. Apart from making sense of Stothard’s visual interpretation of Spenser’s romance, the article will pay attention to how the painter creates an anthological miniature gallery of moments with which the users of the pocket diary may have been familiar. In other words, these vignettes may have conveyed mnemonically a prior reading experience of The Faerie Queene or have stimulated recall of other engagements with the moments represented. Understanding Stothard’s illustrations as iconic interventions in the reception history of Spenser’s work that, by being included in a disposable, annual pocket diary, were significantly more ephemeral than illustrations issued as part of an edition, I shall investigate how Stothard mediates the text by providing textual excerpts and how these one-line cues evoke a particular allusive experience of the text that affects the reading experience.

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