Patten Wilson’s illustrated Coleridge


As is evident by the blurred date on the title page, this illustrated Coleridge by Patten Wilson (1868–1928) was published in 1898. Once again, some of these drawings have appeared here before via copies at Chris Mullen’s Visual Telling of Stories where the scans are a lot better quality than the dreadful job done by Google at the Internet Archive. The drawings look passable when reduced in size but the full-size images are so aggressively compressed that much of Wilson’s fine detail is lost. There’s still very little of Wilson’s beautiful work to be found online—and Coleridge’s poetry is freely available everywhere—so the only reason to look at this particular edition is for the illustrations.

As with Gerald Metcalfe’s volume, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner dominates the collection. I love the way Wilson renders the opening scene by placing the Mariner and the wedding guests in the corner of the picture so he can prefigure the tale with the boats waiting in the harbour. And Kubla Khan’s Pleasure Dome is a lot more impressive than Metcalfe’s city in the clouds. Here’s hoping that a better copy turns up eventually.



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