Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet. "Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only you can't see it... They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It is always light there, always day, they climb the poles and always play." [more inside]
In [a series of notes to Noel Moore, the oft-sickly son of her former governess], Potter punctuates her words with small, sweet illustrations: 'I have come a very long way in a puff-puff …' (next to a train), a straightforward, 'Here are some rabbits throwing snow balls,' and, of course, Peter’s debut in a special dispatch from 1893. - Beatrix Potter’s Picture Letters, The Birthplace Of Peter Rabbit [more inside]
Historical versions of Aesop's fables - text and pictures - collected by Laura Gibbs. She gives thousands of historic texts in English, Latin, and Greek, but even better, has Flickr sets of the historic illustrations (that page is sorted by artist) from editions by Rackham, Caldecott, and other artists going back to the 1400s. [more inside]
"these little songs, and many like them, were made for the comfort of my friends, in their sorrow, doubt and suffering"
An internet search, even in these days of abundant information, yields only that the pamphlets can be found in various library collections, and that they continued to be produced into the '70s. And that Edmund Wilson once sent one, "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward," to Nabokov, calling it "one of the oddest of many odd things that are sent me by unknown people." He also got the title wrong, dubbing it "Mr. P. Squiggle's Revenge," which is probably significant. But that’s it: nothing about Volk or McCalib.Epitomes was a series of pamphlets published by Elwin Volk and Dennis McCalib. Few traces of Volk's life are to be found, but he seems to have been a lawyer, and wrote at least a couple of pamphlets about law, which he self-published in Pasadena. McCalib is equally elusive. A man by that name contributed to an issue of One: The Homosexual Viewpoint in 1964. A Dennis McCalib also used the pseudonym Lord Fuzzy. The aforementioned "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward" got a curt, two half-sentence dismissal in Poetry Magazine, otherwise these pamphlets seem not to have troubled the literary world. Someone donated their manuscripts to UCLA where they rest undigitized in fourteen boxes. But Library of Congress has scanned a total of twenty-six pages in high resolution.
Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
The Nuremberg Chronicle is one of the earliest printed books. The author, Hartmann Schedel, sets out a history of the world as understood at the time, relying heavily on the Bible. It is perhaps best known today for its wealth of images (some favorites: Creation of Birds, Map of the World, Half Horse, Stoning of St. Stephen and Apocalypse). The Beloit College website has a lot more information about the book and its context. They even have an English translation which is fully searchable.
Sifting through The Staxx you'll find excerpts from ancient books about British chimneysweeps, ferns and mosses, Japanese art motifs, ornamental alphabets, and much more.
Die Wunder Gottes in der Natur (1744) illustrates astronomical, meteorological, geological, spiritual, and psychological visions, based on the work of 16th century Alsatian encyclopedist Conrad Lycosthenes.
The cover and title page.
The cover and title page.
An excellent set of illustrations from a French Sherlock Holmes collection. Let us attempt to sleuth out the stories to which these great little pieces of art belong.
Picture Book Report is an extended love-song to books. Fifteen illustrators will reach out to their favorite books and create wonderful pieces of art in response to the text that has moved them, shaped them, or excited them. From sci-fi to children’s books to fantasy to serious novels, we’ll cover them all. For three weeks out of every month there will be a new illustration every day from one of us along with our thoughts, process, anything we can come up with. Together we will try to excite readers both new and old and capture some of that magic of storytelling.. [more inside]
One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick Inspired by Zak Smith's (previously) Illustrations for Each Page of Gravity's Rainbow, self-taught artist Matt Kish is posting One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick. Some favourites: 8, 40, 48, 54, 66, 74, and 85. While he's only through about 100 of the Signet Edition's 552 pages, you can follow along on the artist's blog.
Alasdair Gray is best known as a novelist but his illustrations of his own books have long fascinated and delighted. Here you can see hundreds of artworks by Alasdair Gray, including some book illustrations, from 1950 through 2009. Here are a few of his works that I like: unfinished Scottish Society of Playwrights poster, Nina Watching the Simpsons, Erics Watching Television, Ice Age and Babylonian Science, theatre poster for A Clockwork Orange and the Scots Hippo series. Also on the website there are a lot of articles about and by Alasdair Gray reposted from various publications. And finally, here's a podcast of a talk Alasdair Gray gave called The First Pictures I Enjoyed.
"A few months ago, I got an email from Paul Buckley, the wonderful art director at Penguin Classics, who asked if I wanted to illustrate a book cover for him..." Illustrator Michael Cho on designing a cover for Don Delillo's White Noise as part of the Penguin Graphic Classics series, in which prominent comic artists and illustrators create covers for literary classics. All the covers can be found in this flickr set, including Daniel Clowes’s Frankenstein, Candide illustrated by Chris Ware, and Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) cover for Gravity's Rainbow.
The Táin lithographs In 1967 Louis le Brocquy was commissioned to illustrate Thomas Kinsella's translation of the great Irish prose epic the Táin Bó Cuailnge. The resulting collaborative volume is widely acknowledged as the great Irish Livre d'Artiste of the twentieth century; Le Brocquy's "brush drawings merged seamlessly with the text; stark, fluent images, they expressed with great economy of means an epic breadth, evoking the movement of vast masses of people. Individual participants in the drama were also pulled into close focus."
The Smithsonian's Jules Verne Centennial site has a collection of a large number of high quality scans of original, engraved illustrations from Verne's works. From the fantastic (interior of space vehicle, flying ship, spacewalking) and mundane (two dogs, a nice meal, elephant trying to break free from a hot-air balloon). And don't forget to check out the portrait of Jules Verne and his many technological prophecies. For information about the publishing history of Jules Verne read this scholarly article by Terry Harpold about illustrations of Jules Verne stories, focusing on Le Superbe Orénoque. It also includes a wealth of illustrations. Finally, as a bonus, here's a picture of the National Air and Space Museum's scale model of the spacecraft Verne came up with for his De la Terre à la Lune.
Alasdair Gray 0-70 2004 BBC Artworks Scotland film made on the occasion of Glasgow artist and author's (best known for Lanark) seventieth birthday. Also a short clip and another film on his mural work as embedded Youtubery at his site. (Previously.)
The Book of Job, as illustrated by William Blake, in high resolution. He was 68 when he finished it in 1826, but died the following year before he could finish giving Dante's "Inferno" the same treatment. (Complete Blake Archive.)
Traditional Russian fairytales with beautiful illustrations depicting scenes from the stories.