Alessandro Manzoni's famous novel, first published in 1827, had run to four English editions by 1845, and these drawings probably date from a few years later. They are most certainly Burne-Jones's earliest surviving work. Although they owe much to conventional illustration of the day, Burne-Jones felt that drawings of this kind were prophetic. In 1890 he wrote of his early attempts to draw: 'I never failed to draw mountains at the back of everything just as I do now, though I'd never seen one.'
Two more very early drawings of a child reading and a Gothic chapel on a bridge, are pasted to the back of the sheet (H & W, figs 4-5). The child reading is copied from The comic album, 1843.