The Art of Book Design: Beauty in Common Things

Beauty in Common Things by Chambers, A. C; Whymper, Emily Hepburn, 1833-1886, illustrator; Dickes, William, 1815-1892 (printer); Stanford, Edward, 1827-1904 engraver; Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain). General Literature Committee. 1874. London

The gilded cover is an engraving of all the plants displayed in the book. I’ve added 2 of the interior plates below the fold for anyone interested. [Read more…]

The Art of Book Design: Kate Greenaway’s Almanack

Cover for Kate Greenaway’s Almanack for 1893, London, [1892].

A book of weekly dates for religious services in 1893. Each page has a sweet watercolour drawing depicting family activities of the time.


From, where you can view the entire book. I warn you this site can be a bit of a rabbithole.

The Art of Book Design: A Floral Fantasy

Walter Crane. A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden. London: Harper, 1899 — Source.

When I started this series I envisaged it as being about the art of book cover design, not about the art between the covers.  The art between the covers of this book, though, is available on-line and it’s gorgeous so I thought I’d share a few interior plates. The book is a lighthearted look at the “personalities” of plants done in verse and gorgeous art nouveau design. [Read more…]

The Art of Book Design: Alice In Wonderland

I couldn’t make up my mind about the Alice in Wonderland books. I like several of the early edition covers and they’re all striking in very different ways. I just couldn’t choose one over the other so today I’m showcasing three cover designs for this classic book.

Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland – Through the Looking Glass. London, A. Wessels, Co.1900. –-source Blanche McManus

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were first published in 1899 as separate books. The cover pictured above is from the first edition of the combined stories. The attention to detail in the stitched cloth cover is amazing. I want to hold this one in my hand and let my fingers wander all over that gorgeous design.

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. USA, Harper, 1901 –– source Peter Newell

This cover from 1901 might be my favourite. I love the small gilded Alice boldly pointing into a vast expanse of open space, ready to write her own adventure.

Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. Cassells, 1907. –source Charles Robinson

This Alice is full of whimsy and charm. She walks on a cobbled path that might be made of bubbles and she’s surrounded by stars and swirls and leaves made of lace.  The overall design has an airy, magical quality to it. I also like the gold stitching on indigo cloth. It reminds me of fireworks against a night sky.


If you’re interested there are a few other early cover designs to see at the link below.

From: Google Groups, The Illustrated Lewis Carroll