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Since the first publication of her six novels in the 19th century, she has delighted generations of fans with classic stories that have never changed—and countless covers that have. Jane Austen Cover to Cover compiles two centuries of design showcasing one of the world’s most beloved and celebrated novelists. With over 200 images, plus historical commentary, Austen trivia, and a little bit of wit, this fascinating and visually intriguing look back is a must for Janeites, design enthusiasts, and book lovers of every age.
224 pages, Hardcover
First published November 11, 2014
As the world heaved into the conflicts that would define the earlier twentieth century, Jane Austen—or her writing, at least—was drafted into service. During World War I, British soldiers took her books into the trenches and barracks, and those who later suffered from shell-shock were often advised to read her novels to calm their nerves. Her stories, full of humor and free from melodrama, represented aspects of British society that the war had ripped away.With the advent of the 20th century, the covers changed, reflecting more their own times than that of Austen. Some mid-20th century artists adhered to Regency style of dress and hair, contemporary for Austen, while others employed a more eclectic illustration mode: dresses a mix of Victorian and Regency fashions, hairstyles belonging to neither.
Such anachronisms were once a matter of course. In fact, publishers at this time felt no need to reflect details accurate to the setting. Many were content with images that merely conveyed a flavor of “the past”—whatever past they imagined it to be.Many publishers adopted Austen’s books for their needs and reader contingents, with cover art adjusted accordingly. Some covers of mid-century romance publishers are kinda lurid, while the 1960s and 70s covers comply with the hip vogue… somewhat. Many covers have nothing to do with Austen or her time and everything to do with modern (for that era) readers. I wouldn’t even suspect an Austen novel from some of those covers, if they didn’t bear her name.