Doctor Moreau book covers

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William Heinemann (first edition, 1896).

The inevitable book cover post. The examples here are among the better ones, Wells’ novel having been blighted over the years by monstrosities as hideous as those that fall from Moreau’s vivisection table. That said, some early covers might be bad but they look like masterpieces next to some of the fatuous offerings from the current ebook bonanza. The novel has great illustration potential but few of the covers below seem to have given the matter much consideration. Bantam’s Rousseau painting would suit many other novels but doesn’t belong with this particular book. Even Penguin seem to have been confounded of late; their illustration of feline eyes peering through undergrowth could again be used on many other novels, while their most recent edition sports a maze design which doesn’t communicate anything of the book’s content to a curious reader.

The one I like best of this selection is Cuchi White’s illustration for the 2001 Gallimard edition, a picture that does much to convey the novel’s disturbing blend of speculative fiction and outright horror.

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Ace (1958).

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Ballantine Books (1963).

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Magnum Books (1968); illustration: Douglas Rosa.

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