Jack the Giant Killer
This is an elaborately illustrated work by Richard Doyle that tells the classic English tale Jack the Giant Killer and was published after the illustrator’s death. A ‘Publisher’s Note’ at the beginning of the work notes that ‘no apology is needed’ for the publication of this work ‘but it may be of interest to the public to know that the original of this remarkable achievement of his boyish days, written, drawn, and coloured by hand in 1842 – that is, when the artist was quite a boy’. That ‘neither trouble nor expense have been spared to reproduce the original in exact fac-simile’ demonstrates a certain recognition from publishers on the importance of Doyle’s work, in addition to an acknowledgement of and respect for the developing form of the illustrated work as a genre. The book demonstrates the work of the renowned illustrator Richard Doyle in a different context to his best known work in his illustrations for In Fairyland (1870). The illustrations here are substantially different but also possess the comparably detailed and layered scenes of his later work. The main illustrations are often gruesome, depicting giants in large and gory detail, while Jack’s efforts in slaying the giants are often depicted with humour and flamboyance. Each page is bordered with further detail, depicting characters and objects in miniature. Many of the illustrations demonstrate the progression of action, with different aspects of the action highlighted. For example, page 10-11 depicts Jack catching and killing two giants from within another giant’s castle. He makes a noose to catch the giants, and then jumps from the balcony to kill the giants with his sword. This is depicted in sequence: a full page illustration of Jack letting down the noose dominates, and is followed by a smaller close-up perspective of the action which interrupts the text on page 11. In other instances, the text fits into the panels of illustration. For example, the handwritten text is rendered vertically on page 20 in order to fit into an illustration depicting the heads of three giants from a high window. The final sequence of illustrations follow a different order to the progression of events as depicted in the text, encouraging alternative practices of reading the images and text. The final culmination of action is connected and gives the impression of spilling over the pages, thought the bordered frames around each page remain intact.
Place of Publication:
Eyre and Spottiswoode
Date of Publication:
48p., col. ill., 25cm
Illustrations, Illustrator, Giants, Monstrous, Traditional Tale
Children’s Book Collection – DCLA, Pearse Street