Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Book: Maidens, Monsters and Heroes: The Fantasy Illustrations of H. J. Ford

Over the last few years, Jeff A. Menges and Dover Publications have been providing wonderful collections of illustrations by Golden Age illustrators at economical prices. If you've ever priced an art book--or better yet a first edition of one of the original books--you know what I mean.

The most recent release is Maidens, Monsters and Heroes: The Fantasy Illustrations of H. J. Ford.

Publisher's description:

Best known for his illustrations from Andrew Lang's 12-volume series of "Color" fairy books, H. J. Ford also depicted historical figures from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. This collection features his most compelling images from works of fact and fancy. Half of the images are printed in their rare original full-color format.

Henry Justice Ford is best known with this audience as the primary illustrator of the Colored Fairy Books edited by Andrew Lang. Most of the illustrations in this series were black and white, but later entries included color illustrations by H. J. Ford as well. Dover also reprints the Andrew Lang series, but the reprints only include the black and white illustrations. I also have many of his illustrations for well-known fairy tales on SurLaLune. Finding copies of the color illustrations is becoming easier on the internet, but still rare in the real world where illustrations are all too often cut out or even fall out of early editions. (Someday I may describe my search for all the Elenore Abbott fairy tale illustrations, for example, a few of which I haven't even published on SurLaLune.)

While this new collection by Menges is not comprehensive, it includes many of the best of the color illustrations from the fairy books as well as other works by Ford. I didn't find an image count, but many of the pages include more than one illustration, so there are roughly 150 illustrations in this slim volume, sized like a sturdy, thick magazine. Overall, it's a beautiful overview of Ford's work and a happy addition to my personal library.

Don't miss other popular Menges titles, either, such as Once Upon a Time . . . A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tale Illustrations, Arabian Nights Illustrated: Art of Dulac, Folkard, Parrish and Others, and Goble's Fairy Tale Illustrations: 86 Full-Color Plates, just to name a few.

The illustrations in this post are of course by Ford and appear in this new book--there were very few overlaps between the SurLaLune online collection and what appears in this volume.

Now wouldn't a collection of fairy tale illustrations by women--such as my beloved Abbott and Jennie Harbour--be wonderful? Most of them didn't do enough to warrant their own volume but a compilation would be lovely...


  1. I LOVE Henry Justice Ford! He is one of my favorite artists ever. I still remember his exquisite, completely unique and wonderful drawings in my Violet Fairy Book from childhood. Thanks for posting! Love your blog btw.

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  3. OK Heidi. As you wish....

    Or almost. You're "subtle" hint about a book on women illustrators...the subject came up in discussion at Dover some time ago. Dover's Editor-in-chief, M. C. Waldrep, shares our interest in period illustration—and took on the task of putting together a great collection of women illustrators of the golden age.
    By a Woman's Hand: Illustrators of the Golden Age

    will show up on Dover's site in a week or three, and elsewhere soon after. Amazon offers a peek at the cover.

    She did a great job assembling this, and the "editor-in-her" made sure that no stone was unturned while gathering information. While it covers a broad spectrum of subjects, plenty of it (maybe most) came illustrating fairy tales. It's on the way!
    So glad you like the Ford book. Thanks!

    Jeff A. Menges