Cousin Henry

Around the time we settled on Henry’s name, I Googled it just to make sure there weren’t any notorious connotations he’d be saddled with for his entire life.

The only significant association that came up is Cousin Henry, a Victorian novel by Anthony Trollope first published in 1879. I’d never read it or even heard of it before, but I thought a literary precedent would be fine, sophisticated even.

I briefly considered buying a first-edition as a sort of heirloom gift for Henry. But beforehand I read a few short summaries of the plot which centers on the moral dilemma of the title character, a potential heir to an inheritance.

It’s not really specified why, but Cousin Henry (the character) is described as pathetic and contemptible. He never actually rises (or sinks) to the level of a proper villain — just a pitiful, conflicted character placed in a no-win situation. Not exactly an inspirational role model for my son to admire, so I decided to pass on buying him a copy.

I may one day read it and since its copyright has expired, it can be read for free here. What interests me about this Oxford World’s Classics paperback edition is the portrait chosen for the cover. Just like the designer’s attempt to put a face to the character of Cousin Henry, I spend a lot of time trying to picture the adult face of Henry Cousin.

4 thoughts on “Cousin Henry

  1. Well to put an adult face on little Henry, you can pretty much just look in the mirror. He is such a likeness of you. I would suspect that your baby pictures also reflect that.

      • Interesting to me that Aunt Trix thinks Henry looks like you, Mark. To me, he looks a lot more like Jacqui, maybe because he has her coloring. Your were a dark haired baby & not as fair skinned as Henry. But I suspect as he grows we’ll see both of you in Henry’s features, just as I can see myself and your dad in your face and Chris’ and Cheryl’s. Also interesting about the book, Cousin Henry, but since the title character’s not a good role model, I’m glad you didn’t buy it for our Henry ! Our sweet Henry will thankfully have two good parents to emulate! Love ya’ll, Mom

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