Illustrating Poe #3: Harry Clarke


And so to the master. Harry Clarke’s illustrated edition of Tales of Mystery and Imagination was published by Harrap in 1919, with a new edition following in 1923 that featured an additional series of colour plates. I can’t imagine anyone ever producing a better illustrated version of Poe than Clarke managed, the morbid quality which some complain about in his work is perfectly suited to that most morbid of writers. So too are Clarke’s haunted and neurasthenic figures, and the many decorative details which provide an analogue to the author’s distinctive prose style. The first four drawings which follow repeat the earlier order of the Beardsley illustrations; an unfair comparison, perhaps, since the subject matter didn’t suit Aubrey’s temperament, but a comparison shows how differently the same stories might be illustrated, and how much Clarke brings the macabre elements to the fore.

There’s no need to post a large selection this time when quality scans have already appeared at A Journey Round My Skull and Golden Age Comic Book Stories. These drawings really do need to be seen showing all their fine detail.


The Black Cat: “I had walled the monster up within the tomb!”


The Murders in the Rue Morgue: “Gnashing its teeth, and flashing fire from its eyes, it flew upon the body of the girl.”


The Fall of the House of Usher: “But then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher.”


The Masque of the Red Death: “The dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet.”


The Premature Burial: “Deep, deep, and for ever, into some ordinary and nameless grave.”

This stunning drawing had its cramped coffin purloined for a House of Usher poster in 1960 (below). None of the later Corman posters that I’ve seen borrowed from Harry Clarke but I did refer to the artist’s murderous Rue Morgue ape when I came to draw issue three of the Lord Horror series Reverbstorm.



Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Illustrating Poe #2: William Heath Robinson
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
Strangest Genius: The Stained Glass of Harry Clarke
Harry Clarke’s stained glass
Poe at 200
Harry Clarke’s The Year’s at the Spring
The art of Harry Clarke, 1889–1931

2 thoughts on “Illustrating Poe #3: Harry Clarke”

Comments are closed.

Discover more from { feuilleton }

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading