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Austen Illustrations

One of my favorite nerdy Janeite things to do is to find illustrations of Jane Austen's novels, particularly ones from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. There is something so intriguing about seeing how someone else many years ago viewed a particular scene or character, yet we both read the same words on the page.

I particularly love the illustrations by C.E. Brock and H.M. Brock, which were done during the 1890s and early 1900s. They were brothers who created most of the classic and beautiful illustrations. Seriously, look at the picture above. The colors and drawings are exquisite. If you want to learn more about the pair, check out this site. Hugh Thomson is another artist who did classic Jane Austen illustrations at the time as well.

This one just cracks me up. C.E. Brock totally captured Mr. Collins and his horrific proposal in this drawing. He's so tall, awkward, and pompous. Elizabeth is slanted away from him and desperately doing anything rather than look at him.

This is another beautiful illustration of Emma and Mr. Knightley when they finally come to terms with their feelings for each other. I love the portrayal of Mr. Knightley, but I can't help but feel that Emma would look less timid. She is Emma Woodhouse after all.

Oh, Catherine Morland. The heroine of Northanger Abbey looks totally caught up in whatever gothic romance she is currently reading. I wonder if it is The Mysteries of Udolpho, or The Monk?

This is a drawing by Elizabeth Bishop of Bingley's proposal to Jane in Pride and Prejudice. I love this. It's simple, yet very intense. You can see the feelings that the two have for each other. Maybe it makes us look again at the relationship that always gets overshadowed by Elizabeth and Darcy.

This C.E. Brock drawing depicts Edward and Elinor in Sense and Sensibility. You can see the comfortable affection that they have for each other. I also love the cat just sitting there observing them. Some things never change.

This is a woodcarving by Joan Hassall depicting Edmund comforting young and homesick Fanny in Mansfield Park. It's stark and beautiful, and the emotion pours out of the image.

*Sigh.* Captain Wentworth leaves his letter out for Anne to read in Persuasion. This drawing shows that each knows the significance of the letter.

I'm going to wrap up this post with a more modern portrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy, but one that perfectly captures their attitudes towards each other at the beginning of the novel. It makes me smile.

Had any of you seen any of the older illustrations? What did you think of them? Where they similar to what you had in your head? How important are illustrations to a book in your opinion?


  1. Lovely! One of my favorite posts to date!

  2. I think illustrations can be helpful for picturing some things, but sometimes I don't want the help. I will often have my own picture in my head of characters and seeing an illustration will either give me more details to picture, or I will be unhappy because I was imagining something different. It really depends on how much the author gives me to work with.

  3. Illustrations are interesting after I read the book, in my opinion. Just like I never go see a movie before I read the book, I think it's important for the reader to picture everything in their own minds, unless of course the author includes pictures, in which case I think that makes it an entirely different form of art. I LOVE these illustrations, though! They are so full of emotion and portray scenes beautifully, while being the perfect amount of detailed as to still leave room for some perspective of the reader.

  4. Illustrations add a different perspective to looking at Jane Austen and the characters she created. I think it is an amazing way to get a deeper look into her books.

  5. These are stunning images of a classic work that i didn't even know existed! I'm so glad you decided to spotlight them, because they certainly do deserve some praise. My favorite one though, is probably the most modern one due to its color and character positioning. So much disdain in one tilt of the head.

  6. Interesting thought! It it neat to see the way in which para language is still understood and practiced in the same way. Cool pictures!

  7. Interesting thought! It it neat to see the way in which para language is still understood and practiced in the same way. Cool pictures!

  8. I'm just curious if you've ever attempted to illustrate any Jane Austen scenes yourself, Maria? You seem like a die-hard fan, so I thought you might have attempted it.

  9. I love all these illustrations! They're so interesting to look at! Whether or not a book should have them, I think that's completely up to the author. But I personally like to envision the characters and scenes for myself.


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