Comments on books illustrated by Frank Godwin for “The Children’s Bookshelf” series of the John C. Winston Company: A few introductory remarks . . .

This is a revised version of a post that has not been “up” on this blog much during the past year.  This post attempts to keep things simple.  For instance, it does not make any effort to discuss variations in the placement of illustrations, or whether there may have been changes in the quantity of illustrations in various printings of the same title.  In looking at the title to this post, and the reference to “A few introductory remarks,” it appears that I had intended to develop the subject at much greater length.  In time, I may do that.

Of course, Frank Godwin illustrated many books other than the ones listed below.  I’ll probably discuss them in the future.  This included early books such as Molly and I, Letters of a Self-Made Failure, Trying It on the Dog, and a book called Why, Theodora!  Godwin also produced illustrations for cover-labels for a number of books that had no interior illustrations by him, and he did other book-illustration work as well.

For a long time I have had the idea of producing a bibliography of books with illustrations by Godwin, and I think I might do that during the next few years.  As a matter of fact, I did issue a rather abbreviated “booklet” (four pages) on the subject about 40 years ago.

Onward to the main part of this post!

In the early decades of the twentieth century there were several series of illustrated classics, issued by different publishers, and featuring the work of quite a few well-known artists.  Probably the best-known of those series was the Scribners Illustrated Classics, which carried illustrations by Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, and others.  Another series was that published by the David McKay Company, and indeed Frank Godwin illustrated Robin Hood and The Black Arrow for the McKay series.

But the series with which Frank Godwin’s name is particularly associated is that published by the John C. Winston Company.  There were actually two components to Godwin’s work for Winston.  Others of his Winston works — Uncle Sam Needs a Wife (frontispiece only),  The Ten Dreams of Zach Peters, and The Book of Courage — are not really a part of the main series.

It’s a little more complicated than that, but I am trying to keep this post simple.  I hope in the future to discuss the Winston books further, perhaps with details on how to identify first editions. Many (if not all) of the books were reprinted (often with significant variations), probably many times.  All of the books listed below (the Godwin editions of them) first appeared in the 1920s.

It appears that the Winston series was generally known as “The Children’s Bookshelf.” However, it is not quite that simple. For instance, as I understand it, a similar series was issued with “re-enforced bindings.”  Also, a related series was known as “The Winston Clear-Type Popular Classics.”

Below are listed the Frank Godwin books in the series known as “The Children’s Bookshelf,” in alphabetical order.

The Arabian Knights, 1924

Note:  Godwin did not produce any interior illustrations for The Arabian Nights, but the “cover label” is from an earlier painting by Godwin.  That illustration is repeated on the dust jacket.  The spine of the dust jacket also appears to have a section of an illustration by Godwin.

Kidnapped, 1925

King Arthur and His Knights, 1927

Robinson Crusoe, 1926

The Swiss Family Robinson, 1929

Tales from Shakespeare, 1924

Treasure Island, 1924

Note:  According to the website of Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, the college owns more than one Godwin painting, and the website reproduces the cover illustration by Godwin for Treasure Island.  (Actually, not all Winston versions used the same illustration for the cover.  The one pictured on the LVC website shows six pirates in a daylight scene.)

Further note:  Treasure Island and Kidnapped were also published together in one volume.

Books in the Winston series were also published (maybe with some variations) in separate sets of books in (from what I have seen offered for sale) varying bindings that were more or less uniform within the set–without elaborate cover illustrations illustrating scenes from the books.  I have not made any study of any of those sets.  What illustrations they include, I do not know.

At least three of the Godwin books in the basic Winston series were published in de luxe editions, as well as in regular editions.  Those books are:

Treasure Island

King Arthur and His Knights

The Swiss Family Robinson

The endpapers of the de luxe edition of King Arthur and His Knights carry an illustration (one illustration in the front, and the same in the back) — which did not appear at all in the regular edition.

—Tom Sawyer

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This entry was posted in Making Private January 28, 2013, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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