Mark Twain and His Illustrators - Vol. 1

Mark Twain and His Illustrators - Vol. 1

Mark Twain and His Illustrators - Vol. 1

Mark Twain and His Illustrators - Vol. 1


The first of a two-volume comprehensive study of the important functions of illustrators and illustrations in Mark Twain's literary career.


The large public who read your books have become accustomed to seeing them characteristically illustrated. a Book with 'Mark Twain's' name attached to it, without illustrations, would be a disappointment and materially injure its sale.

Charles W. Webster, 10 August 1887

From the "gorgeous gold frog" stamped into the cover of The Celebrated Jumping Frog to the peculiar portrait of Aunt Polly on the final page of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer--and on to the propagandizing illustrations of The Connecticut Yankee--illustration was an integral part of Mark Twain's books for over three decades. Volume I in this series of Mark Twain and His Illustrators chronologically surveys the years from 1867 to 1875; Volume II will survey the years from 1876 to 1889. the study explores the influences that illustrators, engravers, editors, and all the people involved in the complex manufacturing process of subscription books, had on Mark Twain's work. the study investigates the multi-faceted relationship between the visual and verbal ideas in Mark Twain's first editions and reveals how the requirements of subscription publication contributed to the success, and sometimes failure, of one of our greatest nineteenth-century American writers.

Mark Twain's first editions, produced for the commercially oriented subscription market, were a feast for the eyes as well as a joy to the heart. By definition the subscription book was a bulky (five to six hundred pages), profusely illustrated (two hundred and thirty-five prints in The Innocents Abroad), crudely engraved, gilt-embellished and often morocco-bound "parlortable" book. These volumes were aggressively peddled throughout the rural countryside by book agents who hawked their wares by flipping through a prospectus laden with illustrations-- the books themselves seldom printed until after a substantial number had been subscribed for by customers.

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