Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

The Moxon Tennyson
A Landmark in Victorian Illustration

By Simon Cooke

“Well-researched and highly readable, Cooke’s richly illustrated book harmonizes two schools of illustration, deftly examines image and word, and skillfully reads the conventional and innovative aspects of Tennyson’s poetry, making a significant contribution to the growing field of illustration studies.”

Catherine J. Golden, author of Serials to Graphic Novels: The Evolution of the Victorian Illustrated Book

“Lavishly illustrated, The Moxon Tennyson by Simon Cooke makes important contributions to studies of Tennyson, print culture, and Victorian visuality. Cooke challenges prior scholarship’s focus on Tennyson’s Pre-Raphaelite illustrators, instead including all Tennyson’s illustrators in his illuminating, interactive assessment of poetry, printing, and Victorian art in this 1857 publishing landmark.”

Linda K. Hughes, coeditor of Replication in the Long Nineteenth Century: Re-makings and Reproductions

“Simon Cooke focuses his very considerable erudition concerning Victorian illustration in this new book-length study of the Moxon Tennyson of 1857. Eschewing traditional interpretations of the Moxon Tennyson as a landmark of Pre-Raphaelite illustration, Cooke argues for a shared idiom among the eight artist collaborators. The five chapters of the book provide lenses for refractions of this argument, culminating in Cooke’s claim that the Moxon Tennyson was a ‘workshop of new creative attitudes for book illustration’ and a turning point in the history of illustration itself. Throughout this study, Cooke’s deep knowledge of book production and illustrative techniques shines, as does his clearly written prose. Lavishly illustrated, this edition generously reproduces many of the illustrations that underpin Cooke’s detailed argument.”

Lisa Surridge, University of Victoria

“Cooke succeeds in challenging accepted views and informatively reconsiders the Moxon Tennyson as an integrated whole, rather than the sum of its supposedly incompatible parts.”

Journal of Victorian Culture

A new perspective on a book that transformed Victorian illustration into a stand-alone art.

Edward Moxon’s 1857 edition of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poems dramatically redefined the relationship between images and words in print. Cooke’s study, the first book to address the subject in over 120 years, presents a sweeping analysis of the illustrators and the complex and challenging ways in which they interpreted Tennyson’s poetry. This book considers the volume’s historical context, examining in detail the roles of publisher, engravers, and binding designer, as well as the material difficulties of printing its fine illustrations, which recreate the effects of painting. Arranged thematically and reproducing all the original images, the chapters present a detailed reappraisal of the original volume and the distinctive culture that produced it.

Simon Cooke is the editor for book illustration and design on Victorian Web. He is the author of Illustrated Periodicals of the 1860s and coeditor of two collections of essays. He has published on Victorian book art, Gothic, Sensationalism, and the Pre-Raphaelites.   More info →


Review in the Journal of Victorian Culture, October 2021


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Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: January 2021
81 illus. · 254 pages · 7 × 10 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: January 2021
81 illus. · 254 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for The Moxon Tennyson

“[Simon] Cooke has given us a penetrating study which shows that the [Moxon Tennyson] is not merely a ‘landmark in Victorian Illustration’ but something far greater and indeed a central creation of English Literature and art that moves it far beyond its historical context.”

Paul Goldman, Victorian Web

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