Behold the handiwork of musician Ryan Adams (left)! This is the front cover he designed for Bram Stoker's Dracula as part of publisher Penguin's "My Penguin" program. Adams used oil paints to create an "outline or silhouette juxtaposed with the idea of the castle -- you know, Dracula's headquarters, his hang." He continues: "In my opinion, Dracula is about how suffocating the Victorian times were. The bonus is, you get vampires! I can't reveal my secrets, but I can reveal that no garlic was harmed in the making of this cover." This is a cool idea, actually ("My Penguin," I mean, not Adams's exegesis) ... you buy a "naked" book for £5 from a list of a dozen classics (including, besides Dracula, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), then "draw, paint, scribble, or scratch" your own cover for it.
Queen Victoria is getting rained on in Kolkata.
Think the Victorians were crazy? Check out The Little Professor's list of links on the Victorians and mental illness.
Two interesting picture sources have come to my attention:
- British Library Images Online is intended for commercial picture buyers but makes for fascinating browsing even if you don't fall into that category. The site features "thousands of the greatest images from the British Library's collections," which include manuscripts, rare books, musical texts, and maps spanning almost 3,000 years. It's searchable and conveniently divided into 15 subject areas, including buildings, historical events, military and combat, religion and belief, and entertainment.
- English Heritage's Viewfinder boasts "illustrations of the industrial age, social history, architecture, and archaeology dating from the 1840s to the present day." You can search by keyword, theme, place name, or "story" (for example, "England at Work"). There's a wonderful collection of the work of Victorian photographer Henry W. Taunt (1842-1922), whose favorite subjects included the Thames River and Oxfordshire. York & Son, one of the largest English producers of lantern slides in the second half of the nineteenth century, is also well represented. Also included are Philip Delamotte's photographs of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.
And finally ... did you know that there's a variety of rhubarb named for Queen Victoria? Nor did I.