Friday, 14 May 2010

'Adorn'd with Cuts': the Illustrated Book in the Eighteenth Century

We held at conference at Chawton House Library today that drew on the growing interest and debate about the use of images to illustrate texts in the flourishing print culture of the eighteenth century. The conference drew together different approaches to book illustration in order to consider the production, purpose and interpretation of images in books of this date. The photograph above shows an exhibition of a number of the Library's most intriguing illustrated texts curated for this event.

The day's speakers included Helen Cole, University of Southampton and Chawton House Library; John Feather, University of Loughborough; Ann Lewis, Birkbeck College, University of London and Brian Alderson, Institute of English Studies. The presentations had one overriding theme in common: questions about how readers used images in their understanding of the texts, and what publishers were trying to communicate with their use of images.

The exhibition displayed books thematically: diagrammatic illustration, fashion and fiction, conduct literature, artists and engravers, portraits and tales of terror. The books displayed included Behn's translation of La Montre, Mirror of the Graces, Halifax's Advice to a Daughter, Blackwell's Herbal, Heywood's Examplary Women and Wilkinson's Lisette of Savoy.