Extending the Book: the Art of Extra-Illustration

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The first page of text in an illustrated edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Folger Digital Image 81266.

See also Extra-illustrated books.

Extending the Book: the Art of Extra-Illustration, one of the Exhibitions at the Folger, opened on January 28, 2010 and closed on May 25, 2010. The exhibition was curated by former Curator of Art and Special Collections Erin C. Blake (Folger Shakespeare Library) and Stuart Sillars (University of Bergen) with LuEllen DeHaven (Folger Shakespeare Library).

Texts are never static objects, but it is rare that readers’ interactions with them are as physically evident as they are in extra-illustrated books. The concept is simple: identify significant people, places, and things in a printed text, collect pictures of them, then insert the pictures as visual annotations to the text.

Extra-illustration came to prominence after the 1769 publication of James Granger’s Biographical History of England. Granger’s un-illustrated book combined thumbnail biographies with lists of portraits, and readers began to supplement their copies with actual examples of the portraits. The practice spread to other texts, and the great era of extra-illustration, or “grangerizing,” began. At its most extreme, a single volume could grow to dozens.

Shakespeare proved especially attractive to grangerizers thanks to the variety of editions available and the many portraits of historical figures, fictitious characters, and well-known actors that could be added. Many extra-illustrators went beyond portraiture to include playbills, scenic views, and even entire books; others inserted manuscript letters, original watercolors, and rare engravings, thus preserving a treasure-trove of unique material.

Finished volumes range from the skilled work of professional inlayers and binders hired by wealthy collectors to self-made books of inexpensive clippings pasted onto cheap inserts. Any book owner could be an extra-illustrator.

From the beginning, extra-illustrators had to defend their “exquisite handicraft” (in the words of an 1890 proponent) against accusations of “breaking up a good book to illustrate a worse one” (in the words of an 1892 critic). This exhibition examines the art and the practice of extra-illustration, from crudely altered books to beautiful new creations.

Contents of the exhibition

Origins of Extra-Illustration

Isolated examples of extra-illustration have been around since the beginning of printing from moveable type over five hundred years ago: readers sometimes inserted additional prints and drawings into published books—usually religious texts—in order to make unique copies for themselves. After the publication of James Granger’s Biographical History of England in 1769, isolated examples were replaced by a torrent of extra-illustrated works. Granger’s un-illustrated book combined thumbnail biographies with lists of portraits, and people began to supplement their copies with actual examples of portraits. The great era of extra-illustration, also known as “grangerizing,” was born. Developing first in Britain, then moving to America, the practice spread to other historical and literary texts, with Shakespeare being a particular favorite.

Items included

  • James Granger. A Biographical History of England, from Egbert the Great to the Revolution. London: T. Davies, 1769. Call number: DA28.G7 Cage v.1; displayed frontispiece portrait of James Granger.
  • James Granger. A Biographical History of England, from Egbert the Great to the Revolution. London: T. Davies, 1769. John Faber (1695?–1756), King Henry IV. London: Thomas Bowles and John Bowles, 1731, mezzotint. Call number: ART Vol. a96 v.1 and LUNA Digital Image.

Shakespeare and Early Grangerizing

Charles Walmesley (1722–97), a Catholic bishop and mathematician, assembled extra-illustrated volumes of the scholarly Johnson-Steevens edition of Shakespeare some time after its publication in 1793. The great majority of the plates Walmesley inserted show historical characters, revealing Walmesley’s greater interest in the plays’ antiquarian value than their dramatic force. Some are individual portraits as recommended by James Granger; others are taken from collections specially printed for use in extra-illustration. Only a very few depict scenes in which the plays are set, or show actors in character. This image, for instance, depicts Charles I (1600–49) opposite a footnote reference to his trial, used by the editors to clarify a detail of formal speech in Measure for Measure. The volumes exemplify an early stage of Shakespearean extra-illustration stressing historical biography, while moving toward the actors and settings that will later dominate.

Items included

  • William Shakespeare. The plays of William Shakespeare. London: T. Longman, B. Law and Son, C. Dilly, et al., 1793. Unknown printmaker after Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641), King Charles I. engraving removed from John Thane (1748–1818), British autography: a collection of fac-similies of the hand writing of royal and illustrious personages, with their authentic portraits. London: J. Thane, 1793. Call number: ART Vol. a37 v.4 and LUNA Digital Image.

Extra-Illustration in Writing

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “illustration” was not used to mean “an illustrative picture” until 1816. Before then, the most widespread meaning was “an elucidation,” as in the Illustrations of Shakespeare by Francis Douce. In Macready's Reminiscences, a brief note to the Rev. H. J. Hedley is inserted following a reference to the death of William Macready’s daughter Lydia. Although on an unrelated topic, it is written on mourning paper (note the thick black border around the letter), demonstrating the lengths to which grangerizers would go to "illustrate" their subjects’ lives when no direct documentary evidence could be found. Extra-illustrated volumes created after the initial craze for grangerizing often included letters as the most immediate, personal kind of “elucidation.”

Items included

  • William Macready. Macready's Reminiscences. London: Macmillan & Co., 1875. William Macready (1793–1873), letter to Rev. H.C. Headley (19th c.). Bound by Morrell, London. Call number: ART Vol. a60; displayed p.410 and opposite.

The Dyce-Hoe Shakespeare

As the practice of extra-illustration developed, compilers included a wider range of materials. Historical figures suggested by Granger were still popular, but they were matched by illustration of characters and visual comments on the plays’ language. Extra-illustrators also began to include original watercolors and rare engravings, both to enrich the reading experience and to display the collector’s good taste and material wealth. Examples shown here are from a six-volume set of Shakespeare, edited by the Reverend Alexander Dyce (1798–1869), that was expanded to twenty-one volumes by New York bibliophile Robert Hoe Jr. (1839–1909). Unsatisfied with the quality of American book binding, Hoe’s preferred binders were English and French. This set went to England for binding by Francis Bedford (1799–1883).

A watercolor by Edward Edwards added to this book is the original design for the frontispiece to The Tempest in John Bell’s 1773–4 edition. This watercolor is immediately followed in the next page opening by the actual engraving of the same image. This sequence demonstrates another aim of the extra-illustrator: the bringing together of all possible forms of the same image. Unlike the published version, the watercolor appears close to the action it depicts. In changing its location, the extra-illustrator has altered the experience of reading the play.

Another example from Shakespeare's Works shows a page opening in Henry V and demonstrates a new tendency in extra-illustration: the inclusion of an image that makes visible the play’s imaginative language. Here, an engraving of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise illustrates the banishment of “the offending Adam”–Prince Hal’s riotous younger nature–when he becomes King.

Items included

  • William Shakespeare. The works of William Shakespeare. London: Edward Moxon, 1857. Edward Edwards (1738–1806), Tempest. ca. 1773, watercolor. Extra-illustrated by Robert Hoe Jr. (1839–1909). Call number: ART Vol. a34 v.2; displayed p.32 and opposite.
  • William Shakespeare. The works of William Shakespeare. London: Edward Moxon, 1857. Charles Warren (1767–1823) after Edward Bird (1772–1819), Adam and Eve. London: Walker & Co., 1815, engraving. Extra-illustrated by Robert Hoe Jr. (1839–1909). Call number: ART Vol. a34 v.10; displayed p. 559 and opposite.
  • William Shakespeare. The works of William Shakespeare. London: Edward Moxon, 1857. Anthony Walker (1726–1765), Romeo and the Apothecary. mid-18th century, color engraving. Extra-illustrated by Robert Hoe Jr. (1839–1909), bound by Francis Bedford (1799–1883). Call number: ART Vol. a34 v.15; displayed p.173 and opposite

George C. George

George C. George's illustration of Hamlet's Act I, Scene IV, 1807. Folger Digital Image 38604.

George C. George, from Penryn, Cornwall, assembled two large extra-illustrated Shakespeares at some time in the early nineteenth century. One uses the edition illustrated by James Heath; the other uses the Boydell-Steevens “National” Edition. Both sets assemble prints, original watercolors, diagrams, and elaborate notes in George’s own fine handwriting, along with copies of paintings from the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery. Since many of the Boydell paintings are now lost, the watercolors provide the only indication of their coloring, revealing the archival value of extra-illustrated editions. That the watercolors were bound and not framed has contributed much to their survival: not being exposed to air or sunlight, they still retain their original brightness.

As well as a great number of engravings and other prints, the second of George C. George’s two editions contains further original watercolors. Most notable is a series of 113 designs by the Swiss artist Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (1733–94). These are most probably designs for a projected illustrated edition of which no details survive. The volumes also include original watercolors signed “Geo. Webbe,” an amateur artist about whom little is known. The volumes reveal important new ways of presenting Shakespeare in visual terms, showing the historical value of extra-illustration at its highest.

The Boydell-George Shakespeare

George C. George collected and produced a full range of material specifically for use as extra-illustrations. Despite his impressive collection—eleven volumes for Boydell and nine for Heath at the Folger—there is little evidence of George’s life. His signature appears on the Boydell Shakespeare subscription list, and the Cornwall records office records a purchase of land, possibly a tin mine. Perhaps he became wealthy from the mining venture, and established himself as a connoisseur, with a circle of friends who shared his interest in Shakespeare.

Items included

  • William Shakespeare. The plays of William Shakespeare. London: John Stockdale, 1807. Duval after Henry Fuseli (1741–1825). Hamlet, Act I, Scene IV. 1797, watercolor. Extra-illustrated by George C. George (fl. early 19th c.). Call number: PR2752 1807c copy 4 Sh.Col v.2; displayed p. 32 and opposite.
  • William Shakespeare. The plays of William Shakespeare. London: John Stockdale, 1807. Extra-illustrated by George C. George (fl. early 19th c.). Call number: PR2752 1807c copy 4 Sh.Col and LUNA Digital Image.
  • William Shakespeare. The dramatic works of Shakespeare. London: W. Bulmer and Co., 1802 [i.e. 1803]. Extra-illustrated by George C. George (fl. early 19th c.). Call number: Flat PR2752 1802 copy 2 Sh.Col. and LUNA Digital Image.
  • Richard Knolles. The generall historie of the Turkes, from the first beginning of that nation to the rising of the Othoman familie: with all the notable expeditions of the Christian princes against them. London: Adam Islip, 1638. Call number: STC 15055 Copy 1 and LUNA Digital Image.

Augustin Daly

Costume design for Augustin Daly's 1891 production of Love's Labor's Lost. Folger Digital Image 37038.

The same person could extra-illustrate the same text to different ends. American theater manager and playwright Augustin Daly was also a prodigious book collector and extra-illustrator. Daly assembled several sets of Shakespeare, including a standard eight-volume Works extended to forty-two volumes. This first set of Shakespeare's Works is extended through the usual addition of prints of actual people and places treated in the plays, a range of prints representing Shakespeare illustration from the middle of the eighteenth century to Daly’s own time, and a similar range of playbills, actor portraits, and autograph letters. The second set, a volume from which is shown here, is made from a privately-printed, limited edition of Shakespeare’s plays as performed by Daly’s company in New York. In addition to the usual sort of extra-illustrations, these volumes include original costume design sketches, plus photographs of actors and sets, making them personal mementos of each production. Read more about a 2013 acquisition to the Augustin Daly collection of extra-illustrated books on the Folger's research blog, The Collation.

Items included

  • William Shakespeare. Love’s labour’s lost ... arranged in 4 acts for the present stage by Augustin Daly. New York: Privately printed for Mr. Daly (Trow’s Printing and Bookbinding Co.), 1891. Extra-illustrated by Augustin Daly (1838–99). Call number: ART Vol. b25 and LUNA Digital Image.
  • E. Hamilton Bell. Costume designs for Augustin Daly’s production of Love’s labour’s lost. Watercolors, [1891?]. Call number: ART Vol. b25 and LUNA Digital Image.
  • William Shakespeare. Taming of the shrew ... as arranged by Augustin Daly. New York : Privately printed for Mr Daly (Trow’s Printing and Bookbinding Co.), 1887. Extra-illustrated by Augustin Daly (1838–99). Call number: ART Vol. b30 and LUNA Digital Image.
  • William Shakespeare. The works of William Shakespeare. London; Glasgow; Edinburgh; Dublin : Blackie & Son, 1888-1890. Extra-illustrated by Augustin Daly (1838–99). Call number: ART Vol. a40 v.1-43; displayed v. 11 and v. 35 and LUNA Digital Image.

Beyond Shakespeare

Although Shakespeare’s works were grangerized more than any other single author’s, many types of publication inspired extra-illustrators. People in England had been personalizing religious texts with additional images long before James Granger’s Biographical History transformed extra-illustration in the late eighteenth century. As both a collection of biographies and a catalog of prints, Granger’s book in turn led to the extra-illustration of other biographies and other art catalogs. Travel books and histories proved to be similarly rich in words ripe for illustration.

Items included

  • Church of England. The Book of Common-Prayer. London: John Bill and Christopher Barker, 1664. Engraving of the Battle of the Downs (October 1639) removed from an unidentified 17th-century book, bound facing “A Psalm or Hymn of praise and thanksgiving after Victory or Deliverance from an Enemy” in "Forms of prayer to be used at sea". Call number: ART Vol. a105, no.295 and others and LUNA Digital Image.
  • George Vertue. A Description of the Works of the Ingenious Delineator and Engraver Wenceslaus Hollar. London: William Bathoe, 1759. Paulus Pontius (1603–58) and Wenceslaus Hollar (1607–77) after Peeter van Avont (1600–52), Seated huntress. Antwerp: Jan Meyssens, 17th century, etching. Call number: ART Vol. b36 and LUNA Digital Image.

Grangering as Anthologizing

In 1903, Alexander Meyrick Broadley (1847–1916) completed his seventeen-volume extra-illustrated version of the two-volume Life of David Garrick by Percy Fitzgerald (1834–1925). Some volumes contain large prints folded over several times; others include the full texts of books not directly related to the original work. These practices, as well as the sheer number of individual additions, have had serious consequences. Some of the prints have been damaged by folding, and some bindings have “sprung”—been forced away from the contents. While repairing the bindings, conservators had to remove two items, a decision not taken lightly because it undoes some of Broadley’s work in extending the Life of David Garrick as the re-titled Age of David Garrick.

Items included

  • Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald. The Life of David Garrick, from original family papers, and numerous published and unpublished sources. London, 1868. Extra-illustrated by A.M. Broadley. Call number: PN2598.G3 F5 Copy 4 Ex.ill. and LUNA Digital Image.

The Dark Side

Grangerizers constantly had to defend their “exquisite handicraft” (in the words of an 1890 proponent) against accusations of “breaking up a good book to illustrate a worse one” (in the words of an 1892 critic). Mutilated books, with some or all of their pictures removed, as well as extra-illustrations with printed text pointing to a previous life in a book, show that the accusations were not unfounded. The hunt for the perfect illustration sometimes left collateral damage, and an illustration’s new home was not always more beautiful than its old one.

The Sum of the Parts

Late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century bibliophiles argued back and forth about whether grangerizers spent more money on their materials than the finished product was worth. Undeniably, both then and now, many extra-illustrated books could fetch more on the open market if disbound and sold as individual pieces. Similarly, before online library catalogs and digital images made it easier to search for pictures in libraries, a grangerized book could be more useful to more researchers if the extra-illustrations were removed and filed for browsing alongside other pictures of the same subject. But disbinding extra-illustrated volumes reverses the intentions of the grangerizer. Institutions and collectors are still faced with the conundrum of where to place value: the original intention of the grangerizer, or the market and research value of individual pieces.

The Usual Suspects

Certain series of prints turn up again and again in extra-illustrated books. Some, like John Thane’s British Autography, were not specifically intended for grangerizing, but because of their format and subject matter they proved irresistible. Others, like Sylvester and Edward Harding’s Shakspeare Illustrated, were advertised as being suitable to illustrate any edition of Shakespeare.

Items included

  • William Shakespeare. The plays of William Shakespeare. London: T. Longman, B. Law and Son, C. Dilly, et al., 1793. James Parker (1750–1805) after Sylvester Harding (1745–1809), Henry V, London: E. Harding, 1790. Call number: ART Vol. a37 v.9.
  • Michael Drayton. Englands heroicall epistles, London: I. Roberts for N. Ling, 1660. Sylvester Harding (1745–1809), Queen Katharine, London: E. & S. Harding, 1792. Call number: STC 7196 and LUNA Digital Image.

The Decline of Extra-Illustration

In his 1903 booklet, The Art of Extra-Illustration, J.M. Bulloch proudly defined grangerizing as the art of “the methodized scrap-book” and advocated placing illustrations in separate volumes from the printed text, using reproductions of older prints rather than expensive originals, and pasting material directly to the page rather than inlaying. In short, what Bulloch called “the older methods of grangerizing” were too much trouble for the modern amateur coping with a superabundance of illustrated magazines, postcards, and newspaper clippings. The golden age of extra-illustration was over.

Items included

  • J.M. Bulloch. The Art of Extra-Illustration. London: Anthony Treherne & Co., 1903. Call number: Z1023 .B93 1903.

The Apotheosis of Extra-Illustration

At the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum from scrapbooking, extra-illustrated books began to move toward what are now called artists’ books and altered books. They became showcases for original works of art, in direct contrast with the “portable museum of locks of hair, marriage certificates, agreements, deeds, tradesmen’s bills, catalogues, autograph letters, and so forth” that the modern extra-illustrated book had become (in the words of the January 1903 issue of Connoisseur). Instead of adding hundreds of mass-produced prints, an elite collector might add only six or seven fine drawings. Instead of inserting separate illustrations to the text, an artist might paint directly on the printed page as American artist Pinkney Marcius-Simons has done to this volume of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Items included

  • Pinkney Marcius-Simons. Watercolor and gouache paintings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1908, added directly to William Shakespeare, Le songe d’une nuit d’été. Paris: L. Conquet, 1886. Call number: ART Vol. a71 and Blog post in The Collation and LUNA Digital Copy.
  • William Shakespeare. Oeuvres Choisies de Shakespeare. Paris: Firmin Didot frères, fils, et cie., 1869. Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), Hamlet (Ophélie), watercolor sketch. Call number: ART Vol. a42 and LUNA Digital Image.

Supplemental materials

Image Gallery

To view highlighted images from this exhibition, visit this Flickr photo album.

Explore: Extra-Illustrated Books

Explore four extra-illustrated books through this online interactive site.