Books For Grown-ups With Illustrations

Christopher Howse at The Telegraph asks why books for grownups don’t have illustrations anymore, and says some very interesting things about the work of Julia Donaldson, but offers no answer about lack of illustrations in adult literature. Instead, commenters offer up a variety of books for adults which are indeed illustrated. To save you wading through a comments section full of literary snobbery (from which I always derive great pleasure), here they are:

  1. Scott Westerfeld’s excellent ‘LEVIATHAN’ trilogy has great illustrations by Keith Thompson.
  2. Doctor Marbles Freedom From Anxiety
  3. Adult literature with illustrations?Aren’t they known as comics?
  4. I have an old Aubrey Beardsley illustrated book that I like and some fiction novels with cigarette advertising plates.
  5. My brother Neil recently produced an illustrated version of The Odyssey with the children’s writer Gillian Cross.
  6. Evelyn Waugh used illustrate some of his books.
  7. Alasdair Gray illustrates his books.
  8. The Folio Society sells beautifully illustrated books… They reissue the classics and contemporary titles with either the original illustrations or newly commissioned artwork.

To that I would add Audrey Niffenegger’s Raven Girl and all the wonderful graphic novels that don’t have the readership they deserve.

To me it seems obvious why most novels for adults are not illustrated. It took a few hours to write Midnight Feast — with continual modifications along the way, of course — and it took over a year to complete just 44 pages of illustrations.

Illustrating books is expensive.


On paper, things look fine. Sam Dennon recently inherited significant wealth from his uncle. As a respected architect, Sam spends his days thinking about the family needs and rich lives of his clients. But privately? Even his enduring love of amateur astronomy is on the wane. Sam has built a sustainable-architecture display home for himself but hasn’t yet moved into it, preferring to sleep in his cocoon of a campervan. Although they never announced it publicly, Sam’s wife and business partner ended their marriage years ago due to lack of intimacy, leaving Sam with the sense he is irreparably broken.

Now his beloved uncle has died. An intensifying fear manifests as health anxiety, with night terrors from a half-remembered early childhood event. To assuage the loneliness, Sam embarks on a Personal Happiness Project:

1. Get a pet dog

2. Find a friend. Just one. Not too intense.




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