Illustrating Trollope: other novels

So far in this series of articles, we have considered twelve of the thirteen novels that are illustrated in the Trollope Society edition and compared these, which use illustrations by Millais, Phiz, Stone, Hall, Whymper and Edwards taken from first editions or serial publication of the novels, with their modern equivalents in the Folio Society edition which are illustrated by contemporary artists. These have included Alexy Pendle (the six Barchester novels plus four standalones making her the most utilised artist in the Folio edition); Llewellyn Thomas (the six Palliser novels and three standalones); Shirley Bellwood (three standalones); David Eccles (one standalone); Francis Moseley (four standalones); Patrick Benson (one standalone); and Kate Aldous (two standalones). We will now turn our attention to the Folio Society editions of the seventeen novels illustrated by other artists for which there is no comparitor within the Trollope Society edition.

The first of these is Rod Waters who provided illustrations for five novels: Castle RichmondNina Balatka, Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, Marion Fay and An Old Man’s Love.  The illustration above is a comic scene, loaded with double entendres, in which Lord Hampstead teases Marion by making her stoke the fire with his poker in the presence of Mrs Roden so that “She could hardly do other than take it in her hand.  She took it and blushed up to the roots of her hair…’Oh, Mrs Roden’, said Marion, ‘I wish I hadn’t done it.’ ‘It doesn’t matter. It was only a joke.'” Whether a Victorian artist would have felt comfortable illustrating this scene, packed by Trollope with innuendo that would be expected to go over the heads of the more innocent family members while amusing the adults, there is much fun for the modern illustrator in selecting such a scene to be depicted. Can he achieve the same level of adult humour while maintaining the apparent innocence of the scene?

Rod, in addition to his artistic talents, is also an accomplished cyclist and cycling coach. In 1997 he broke the world record time for a cycle ride from London to Paris with a time a little over 14 hours. No doubt this passion for cycling accounts for one of his other ventures as author and illustrator of the children’s book, Eric’s Big Day.


We will continue the sporting theme, and select another unusual Trollope novel – his venture into the realms of dystopian sci-fi with the satirical The Fixed Period. This title was illustrated in the Folio edition by Eliza Trimby, who also provided the illustrations for The Macdermots of Ballycloran and An Eye For An Eye.  Here we see the moment when the home team of Britannula’s steam-punk bowling contraption, set up by Jack Neverbend, removes the bails of Lord Kennington Oval with the first ball of his innings. The players’ extra padding and helmets, which were completely unknown in the Victorian game, are as described by a remarkably prescient Trollope with the batsman “completely enveloped…in his india-rubber guards, and so wonderful was the machine upon his head, by which his brain and features were protected.”

Eliza Trimby, in addition to her work for the Folio Society is best known for her illustrations of children’s books such as the Puffin edition of Peter Pan.


Continuing the exotic theme, but a little closer to home than the fictional south sea island of Britannula, Peter Brookes provided the illustrations for The Bertrams and managed to include middle eastern and foreign locations for seven of the sixteen illustrations. Sometimes this was merely the depiction of a mosque in the background of a portrait of principal characters but sometimes, as below, he managed to include not only a location, such as the pyramids near Cairo, but also a camel and a suitably dressed “Englishman Abroad”. The camel’s expression, in this image, captures both the stupidity and the superciliousness of the creature in a merciless caricature which gives more than a hint of Brookes’ skills in the field for which he is most famous…

…because, in contrast to many of the artists used by the Folio Society to illustrate its edition of the Trollope novels, whose other work is primarily aimed at children, Peter Brookes, who also illustrated Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, is best known for his satirical political cartoons aimed very much at an older audience. He was five times named The Times Cartoonist of the Year and showed as little mercy for his political subjects, such as Cameron and Clegg shown here during the coalition government, as he did for the camel.


Shirley Tourret provided the illustrations for Linda Tressel and The American Senator. The first of these is one of Trollope’s two ‘Bohemian’ novels, published anonymously to little public enthusiasm but which gave him opportunity to address difficult modern themes in a “safe”, so far as his British reading public was concerned, foreign location. Although only a slim volume with a mere eight illustrations, Tourret provided a distinctive style to her work which differed from the more restrained illustrations of English settings, with one particularly harrowing depiction of a screaming Linda on her knees before her obdurate, controlling aunt. Tourret manages to convey something of the desperation in the heroine’s doomed bid to escape the clutches of her fate in the illustration of the speeding train by which she left her home, which captures the energy and motion in much the same way as Turner’s painting Rain, Steam and Speed.

Like many of the artists engaged by the Folio Society, Shirley Tourret’s work was frequently illustrating children’s books, such as  The Snow Queen (below) but she also worked on comics and magazines for teenage girls in the 1960s such as Boyfriend magazine. She died in 2007.


The Hungarian artist, Val Biro, provided the illustrations for The Golden Lion of Granpere and The Landleaguers. Biro, living in exile in the UK, provided a distinctive heavy line to his engravings which suited the foreign, alien settings.

Yet this was untypical of much of his work. During the 1950s and 1960s, Biro provided the cover illustrations for a number of famous authors’ works including Nevil Shute and C. S. Forester for whom he provided the cover illustrations of several first editions including  Mr Midshipman HornblowerLieutentant HornblowerHornblower and the Atropos and Hornblower inthe West Indies. However, he is perhaps best loved for his quintessentially English creation, Gumdrop, the blue Healey cabriolet, about which he wrote more than thirty picture books. Biro died in 2014.


In contrast, Barry Wilkinson’s illustrations for Lady Anna, are in a distinctive style which incorporates splatters of ink to convey the emotional intensity of the relationship between mother and daughter. Here Countess Lovel pleads with her daughter to give up the tailor’s son, Daniel Thwaite, reversing the earlier position, also depicted by Wilkinson, in which Lady Anna begs her mother on her knees to be allowed to continue her romance with the young man.

The same technique is used in Wilkinson’s illustrations for a compilation of horror stories, Alfred HItchcock’s Ghostly Gallery, published in 1966. WIlkinson, who was head of Wimbledon College of Art  also worked for a number of children’s publishers such as Puffin, Collins – for whom he illustrated a number of the Paddington Bear books – and for the BBC, providing illustrations for the children’s storytime programme Jackanory. He died in 2007.


Another artist with a “signature” technique was Robin Jacques, the brother of comedy actress Hattie Jacques, who frequently employed a technique known as stippling to achieve the effects of light and shade in his illustrations. This involves applying fewer dots or small bars of colour to create the impression of a well-illuminated area and more dots or bars in areas of contrasting shadow. He used this technique in the illustration of Dr Wortle’s School as in the confrontation in the United States between the English clergyman and teacher Mr Peacocke and Ferdy Lefroy who has been blackmailing his wife.

Robin Jacques provided illustrations for more than 100 novels and children’s books. He is best known for his long collaboration with Ruth Manning-Sanders, illustrating many of her collections of  fairy tales and other stories from all over the world. Jacques died in 1995.


The final artist used by the Folio Society in its complete edition of Trollope’s novels was Robert Geary who illustrated Ayala’s Angel. He brought a mischievous sense of humour to bring out the underlying comedy of this tale. This final illustration finds Ayala Dormer and her sister Lucy in the artist Isadore Hamel’s workshop just prior to Ayala’s marriage to Colonel Stubbs and Lucy’s marriage to the sculptor.  One has only to follow the line of their gaze to be aware of what is looming large in the young women’s minds at their forthcoming nuptials.


Such adult playfulness would be out of place in the majority of Geary’s work providing illustrations for children’s books including titles such as Dracula in Sunlight by Chris Powling, so no doubt he enjoyed the opportunity to indulge himself with such jokes in his work for the Folio Society.




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2 responses to “Illustrating Trollope: other novels

  1. ellenandjim

    Thank you, Mark, for all the good information about these illustrators. I bought myself a few copies of the Folio Society editions and noticed the appropriate well done illustrations and wrote about 5 of the book sets on my website. I describe their effectiveness:

    I knew very little about the illustrators and nothing about the illustrations for the books I had not acquired. I thought the illustrations for Castle Richmond and Ayala’s Angel (so different, the first harrowing and haunting, the second picturesquely playful) perfect for their purpose.

    I am interested in and when done right find book illustrations can add so much to a reader’s experience. Unfortunately since the turn of the 19th century (Henry James one of the culprits who talked against illustrators), illustrations have been castigated or mocked, and often the illustrators are not paid enough and their work not taken seriously or they themselves create half-trivializing cartoons, with the result only “collector’s items” of books (expensive, where the illustrator is well paid and can be a good artist) have well done work.

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