Posts Tagged ‘illustrations’


Sylvia: a publicity stunt

September 6, 2011

Back in 1901, Small, Maynard & Co. published a truly terrible novel called Sylvia: the story of an American countess. It was witten by Evalyn Emerson. As far as I can tell, she never wrote anything else, and for we should all be grateful.

Anyway, Small, Maynard & Co., came up with a clever way to market the novel. They got a dozen well-known artists to draw portraits of Sylvia (apparently the most beautiful woman in the world) and asked readers to rank the protraits in order of beauty. The person whose guess came closest to the average would win. I’ve been unable to discover the results of the contest, but what I have found (it wasn’t difficult; they put it right in the front of the book) is the method used to tally the answers, and that means that I can recreate the contest. It won’t work if only a few people respond, and there’s a good chance that that’s what’s going to happen, but if this works, it will be really cool. And the more people that participate, the cooler it will be.

So: Please participate! Send your friends to participate! Link here from your blog, tumblr, twitter, etc.! The person whose ranking comes closest to the average will win a review by me of the book of their choice* Contest entries should contain all twelve artist names, ranked by beauty, and should be sent to You don’t have to use the coupon below for your answers, but if you do, I will be super impressed. Contest ends…well, let’s say November 1st. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Tale of Triona

July 29, 2011

So, there’s this girl named Olivia Gale. Her mother married beneath her, her father and two older brothers died in World War I, and now her mother’s died too, so Olivia lets the house to Blaise Olifant, a scientist who lost an arm in the war and wants a quiet place to work, and moves to London. There she meets up with her old friend Lydia, who owns a fashionable millinery. Lydia introduces Olivia to her glamorous friends, and for a while Olivia has fun running around with them and dancing all night and doing whatever else idle young people with disposable incomes do in the aftermath of World War I. But Olivia is our heroine, so she eventually gets fed up with being shallow, and it’s around that time that Olifant comes to London for a visit and introduces her to his friend Alexis Triona. Read the rest of this entry ?


Top 10 Underappreciated Children’s Books 2/3

May 17, 2011

Here’s part two. You may notice that the formatting is unbelieveably horrible. I tried to fix it, but I’ve given up now.

Part 1/3

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Jimsy: the Christmas kid

December 14, 2010

For some reason, Project Gutenberg neglected to include the frontispiece in their etext.

I kind of loved Jimsy: the Christmas kid, mostly for the way Leona Dalrymple always manages to stop short of sentimentality. It’s classic Christmas story stuff — an elderly couple volunteers to house a poor boy from the city over Christmas, and he ends up changing their lives — but there’s no classic Christmas story wallowing, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Read the rest of this entry ?


Piranesi’s Carceri:Kindle screensavers

January 13, 2009

I’ve made myself a Kindle screensaver out of Piranesi’s Carceri d’Invenzione — etchings of imaginary prisons — and I thought I might as well share them. I think they’re pretty awesome, myself.

ETA: I am told these work equally well for the nook.


A Versailles Christmas-tide

December 11, 2008

A Versailles Christmas-tide

I meant to read and post about a whole lot of Christmas stories before I go on vacation, and I may yet, but schoolwork has got in the way, and so far the only one I’ve finished is A Versailles Christmas-tide, written by Mary Stuart Boyd and extensively illustrated by her husband, A.S. Boyd. Read the rest of this entry ?


Queen Hildegarde

October 14, 2008

There are a few kinds of children’s stories you see over and over. One that I happen to particularly like is the one where a kid from a city goes to live in the country, or in a small town, and communes with nature and gets their priorities straight. Queen Hildegarde is one of those.

Hildegarde Graham is the spoiled fifteen-year-old daughter of rich parents. She lives in New York City, is very pretty, has beautiful clothes, and is the envy of all her friends. Her parents, though, are sensible people, so they get worried about her, and when they have to go off to California for a few months, they send Hilda to stay with her mother’s old nurse.

Hildegarde is completely horrified by the prospect. She’s basically like, “farmers, ew!” and she uses the word “intolerable” a lot. Read the rest of this entry ?


Yesterday’s Acquisitions

October 11, 2008

Yesterday my father and I went to an auction of books and documents and prints and things. Because of the financial crisis, people weren’t bidding as high as expected, but even so the children’s books I was interested in buying were out of my reach. We did manage to get a folio of Japanese watercolors my mother wanted, though, and we bid on something signed by King James I, mostly because nobody else was, and it would have been kind of awesome if we had won.

But not getting anything at the auction gave me an excuse to buy a book of drawings by Charles Dana Gibson — The Social Ladder — that I’d been looking at last weekend. It’s in terrible condition — it’s literally falling apart — but the drawings themselves are intact, even if the pages they’re on aren’t completely. And I got it for less than half of the lowest price I’ve found online. And then I bought a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Life, Letters and Journals, which I initially thought was signed by Alcott, but which in fact just has a facsimile signature below her photograph on the frontispiece. Fortunately, I was neither very surprised nor disappointed, and I’m still pretty pleased about the price I got it for.

The woman in the store where I bought both books also threw in a 60s paperback by Viola Rowe called Freckled and Fourteen. I plan on posting about all three books in depth, and if I can manage it, I’d like to photograph and post the whole of the Gibson book.


Our Friend the Dog

September 6, 2008

Our Friend the Dog, written by Maurice Maeterlinck and illustrated by Cecil Alden. I have to admit, I haven’t actually read this book. But I kind of love the pictures.


The Motor Car Dumpy Book

March 25, 2008


“These are the kind of clothes you wear when you go moting if you are a man.”


“These are the kind of clothes you wear when you go moting if you are a woman.

“This is the magistrate who fines you £20 if you have been driving too fast. It is best not to drive too fast.”

The Motor Car Dumpy Book, by T.W.H. Crosland


Home Taxidermy

October 31, 2007

I came across this book once while looking browsing in the library basement a couple of years ago. It still kind of scares me.

Home Taxidermy for Pleasure and Profit;
A Guide for Those Who Wish to Prepare and Mount Animals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles, etc., for Home, Den, or Office Decoration

Home Taxidermy

ETA: I’ve been scrolling through, looking at the illustrations and stopping to read a little here and there, and this thing is hilarious. Check out these pictures:

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Patty in Paris, illustrations.

September 8, 2007

Patty on the ship.
Frontispiece. A long blue veil tied her trim little hat in place. Read the rest of this entry ?


Miss Billy illustrations

September 5, 2007

When I wrote about Miss Billy’s Decision the other day, I sort of wrote my way into being really annoyed with it. So, while I’d intended to write something about Miss Billy Married, I’m putting it off indefinitely. If anyone is particularly interested, let me know, and I will get to it, I’ll just work myself into a good mood reading more Patty Fairfield books first.

For now, here are the frontispieces of the two later Miss Billy books.

Miss Billy’s Decision:

Miss Billy’s Decision

For some reason I find her hair really entertaining.

Miss Billy Married:

Miss Billy Married

Very Leighton-esque, isn’t it?

Also, I have put up a page with the illustrations from Patty at Home here.


The Queen of the Pirate Isle

May 16, 2007


Remember how Little Old New York claimed to be “profusely illustrated”? Well, their definition of “profuse” clearly didn’t agree with mine. I’d be more inclined to apply the phrase to The Queen of the Pirate Isle, written by Bret Harte and illustrated by Kate Greenaway. In general, I like Greenaway’s work, and this batch of illustrations is very enjoyable, despite — or perhaps partly because of — the fact that the main character’s clothes seem to change period at random.
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The Leopard Woman Illustrations

May 16, 2007

I’ve had the illustrations from The Leopard Woman sitting on my desktop for kind of a while now, so I’ve put them up at Flickr. See the rest here.