Lucian’s True History


Lucian is Lucian of Samosata whose True History (also known as A True Story) is often regarded as one of the earliest works of science fiction. The book is a satirical work, but unlike many earthbound satires this one concerns a journey into outer space, encounters with the inhabitants of various planets, and descriptions of interplanetary war.


These illustrations are from the 1894 edition which included contributions by Aubrey Beardsley that were the artist’s earliest drawings after the enormous labour of the Morte d’Arthur. Beardsley was eager to illustrate the book which he found more stimulating than the Mallory but when commissions arrived for Wilde’s Salomé and The Yellow Book he found himself overworked. (The publishers also rejected two of the more grotesque drawings.) William Strang and JB Clark filled out the rest of the book. The Beardsley illustrations are familiar from the larger collections but I’d not seen the Strang and Clark drawings until now. Content-wise this was the strangest book that Aubrey worked on, and I can’t help but wonder how he might have illustrated the rest of it if he’d had the time.



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William Strang’s Sindbad the Sailor


Another collaboration between William Strang and JB Clark, Sindbad the Sailor, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was published in 1895. The Sindbad text is from Edward William Lane’s popular (and bowdlerised) translation of the Thousand and One Nights; Ali Baba is from the translation by Rev. Jonathan Scott. The illustrations follow the same bold style as the Baron Munchausen book but with more detail and decoration. The compositions are also more careful which makes me wonder if the Munchausen book was a product of haste. As before, the book as a whole contains many more illustrations. The copies here have been slightly cropped and lightened to compensate for another poor scanning job by Google.




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William Strang’s Baron Munchausen


The paintings and illustrations of Scottish artist William Strang (1859–1921) were much more typical of their time than the bold drawings in this 1895 edition of Rudolf Erich Raspe’s tall tales. Not all the illustrations are Strang’s work, some are by JB Clark, and there are many more in the book as a whole. Years later, the Gollancz publishing company was based next door to Lawrence & Bullen’s former home at 14 Henrietta Street.




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