The Art of Book Design: Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Edgar Allen Poe. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. London : G. G. Harrup ; New York : Brentano’s, 1919.

Here’s Marcus again and he’s holding his first edition copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, illustrated by Harry Clark.  Clarke was another of Caine’s favourite artists and many of the drawings that follow have previously been seen on this blog. Clarke’s illustrations in Poe’s Tales of Mystery are considered the best of any edition produced. According to the Public Domain Review:

 …perhaps it is the Irishman Harry Clarke who has come closest to evoking the delirious claustrophobia and frightening inventiveness of “Poe-land”. For the 1919 edition of Tales Clarke created the twenty-four monochrome images featured below. Their nightmarish, hallucinatory quality makes you wonder if he was on something, until you remember the stories.

I couldn’t agree more. All 24 full-sized illustrations are included below the fold.

Illustrations via: The Public Domain Review

The 1923 edition of the book can be viewed at The Internet Archive. This edition includes 4 colour plates that were not part of the original 1919 edition. I haven’t included them here. They’re worth taking a look at and so are the smaller page illustrations.

“Incomprehensible men! Wrapped up in meditations of a kind which I cannot divine, they pass me by unnoticed” (Manuscript Found in a Bottle)

“It was a fearful page in the record of my existence” (Berenice)

“The Earth grew dark, and its figures passed by me, like flitting shadows, and among them all I beheld only—Morella” (Morella)

“Has no copy been taken?” he demanded, surveying it through a microscope (Passages in the Life of a Lion)

It was the Marchesa Aphrodite—the adoration of all Venice (The Assignation of Venice)

“I had myself no power to move from the upright position I had assumed” (The Assignation of Venice)

“Avast there a bit, I say, and tell us who the devil ye all are!” (Bon-Bon)

But there was no voice throughout the vast, illimitable desert (Silence)

The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, … upon the interior surface of a funnel (A Descent into the Maelstrom)

“I would call aloud upon her name” (Ligeia)

But then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the Lady Madeline of Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher)

“In my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou has murdered thyself” (William Wilson)

Gnashing its teeth, and flashing fire from its eyes, it flew upon the body of the girl (The Murder in the Rue Morgue)

In his toilsome journey to the water his fears redouble within him (The Mystery of Marie Rogêt)

The dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet (The Masque of the Red Death)

“I saw them fashion the syllables of my name” (The Pit and the Pendulum)

“They swarmed upon me in ever-accumulating heaps” (The Pit and the Pendulum)

But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound (The Tell-Tale Heart)

There flashed upward a glow and a glare (The Gold Bug)

“I had walled the monster up within the tomb!” (The Black Cat)

Deep, deep, and for ever, into some ordinary and nameless grave (The Premature Burial)

Upon the bed there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putridity (The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar)

“For the love of God! Montresor!”
“Yes,” I said, “For the love of God!” (The Cask of Amontillado)

Landor’s Cottage (Landor’s Cottage)


Illustrations via: The Public Domain Review


Leave a Reply