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  • Karen Lee Street

Books and Covers and Edgar Allan Poe

I am definitely the sort of person easily influenced to pick up a book because I find it's cover appealing or unusual, so it was interesting to look at a few covers for Poe's various works and consider how each gives a sense of its era as well as its contents.

Poe's most famous poem "The Raven" is included in each volume and influences the design of the three book covers, yet each is very different in tone and style. I find them all compelling, but if one didn't know the work, how would the cover influence one's expectation of the contents? And do these covers suggest how different generations have interpreted Poe's work?

Cover illustration by

Gustave Doré, 1883

Cover Illustration by

John Rea Neill, 1910

Washington Square Press,

43rd edition 1968

A book's frontispiece also adds to a books appeal, particularly if as beautiful as those created by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, who were renowned for their glorious work.

These two beautiful pages are from Selected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, illuminated and bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

Francis Sangorski and George Sutcliffe founded their bookbindery on 1 October 1901 in an attic room in Bloomsbury after meeting at Camberwell College of Art.

They became known for glorious, inventive bookbindings often inlaid with jewels and lovely illuminated frontispieces. A copy of this Poe book is at the Harry Ransome Center (Texas).

“Lenore,” an illuminated leaf in “Selected Poems of Edgar Allan Poe” bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. Photo by Pete Smith.

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