Chapter 27 from Dracula – Mina Harker’s Journal. In pursuit of Dracula, Van Helsing’s journey to Transylvania to kill Dracula begins, with Mina guiding the way.
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” -Bram Stoker, Dracula
It’s that time of year again – Fall. The sun is starting to set sooner. The leaves are changing colors and falling rapidly. Pumpkins are ripe for the picking and for sale at many road-side stands. Along with these seasonal traits, it is also the time of year when the words “ghosts”, “goblins”, and “monsters” are used more frequently as we approach the spooky celebration of Halloween.
It’s also important to recognize some of the most notorious and terrifying characters from literature that have fueled the terror in Halloween. Characters such as “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” were created over 100 years ago, and they are still seen in many movies and in costumes on Halloween night.
In honor of these horror icons (and many others), here are a few of the Wilson Collection’s most eerie and unearthly books:
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
- Originally published in 1818, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1934.
- Though the character “Frankenstein” is commonly portrayed as a green-faced monster with many stitches on his face, the original character is actually Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He is the creator of the man-monster.
- The story idea was created during a friendly competition between her husband and a friend, to see who could write the best ghost story.
- The illustrations by artist, Everett Henry, purposefully exclude the man-monster. Every scene, however, implies that he is there.
- Though the book received a mixture of praise and criticism from LEC members when it was mailed out, the founding director (George Macy) believed the drawings were the most perfect set of illustrations for a book ever seen.
Frankenstein is considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction.
There are many beautifully drawn photos by Everett Henry, none of which show the actual man-monster.
Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
- Originally Published approximately 1902, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1941.
- This novel was the first complete collection of his stories specifically focusing on suspense and related tales.
- 16 aquatints (an intaglio printmaking technique similar to etching) were illustrated by artist, William Sharp.
- Published posthumously, Poe’s work gained most of its popularity after he died.
Illustration from A Descent into the Maelstrom, a story recounting how a man survived a shipwreck and a whirlpool.
The graphic and disturbing etchings were created by artist, William Sharp. He illustrated 16 aquatint etchings; a form of intaglio printmaking.
The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoevsky (2 vols)
- Originally Published in 1872, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1959.
- Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett, and includes the originally suppressed chapter, “Stavrogin’s Confession.”
- The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
- The Possessed was the initial English-translated title. The title now that is preferred is Demons or The Devils.
- Despite the wicked title, the novel actually is politically controversial. It is a testimonial of life in Imperial Russia in the late 19th century.
Eichenberg also created engravings for the LEC’s The House of the Dead. All images mirror the dark and controversial context of each book by Dostoevsky.
Book 1 of 2 - The Possessed. The engravings were created by Fritz Eichenberg.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Originally published in 1897, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1965.
- The original final chapter was removed, in which Dracula’s castle falls apart as he dies, hiding the fact that vampires were ever there.
- Stoker’s enthusiasm for theater, writing, and fantasy began when he was young, inspired by his father, Abraham Stoker. At an early age, Bram often spoke of a vampire story that he would someday write.
- An article by Maurice Richardson in The Observer in December, 1957, broke the success of the book down to 3 key elements – the singular fascination of the vampire superstition, the inclusive nature of the plot (which deploys a powerful psychological situation), and the furiously-active narrative.
Dr. Van Helsing meets with Mina, inquiring her about her recently deceased friend, Lucy Westenra.
The wood engravings were illustrated by Felix Hoffmann. From the chapter Memorandum left by Lucy Westenra - after a loud howl outside the window, a gray wolf breaks through the glass of Lucy’s window.
The Book of the Dead (2 vols)
- Originally published and used approximately 1550 BCE to around 50 BCE, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1972.
- The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text containing a number of magical spells, with the intention of assisting the dead’s journey through the underworld.
- Because there is not an actual book, the LEC arranged to photograph the paintings housed in the British Museum. Expert Peter Parkinson photographed the sections of the paintings and created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyrus.
- The renowned Egyptologist Raymond O. Faulkner was commissioned to give a fresh translation of the ancient spells in the book.
Spell 83 – Spell for Being Transformed into a Phoenix from The Book of the Dead.
- Peter Parkinson created color transparencies from the Egyptian papyri in the British Museum.
The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Originally published in 1861, published by the Limited Editions Collection in 1982.
- Translated from Russian by Constance Garnett.
- The engravings were illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg.
- Also known as Memoirs from the House of the Dead and Notes from the Dead House, the story portrays the life of convicts in a Siberian prison camp.
- The story is semi-autobiographical from the time that Dostoevsky spent 4 years in exile in a similar camp.
Wood engravings – “I must have got into Hell by mistake,” and “Hell must have been not unlike our bathroom” in The House of the Dead.
Wood engraving – “He ate alone, voraciously, like a wild beast” from The House of the Dead.
Want to see these books, or would you like to view more works from the Wilson Collection? The Wilson Collection is housed on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library, next to the Fine Arts book section. To make an appointment to view the collection, please call (615) 862-5804 ext. 6092.