I was looking for a particular image (which I did not find) on Google Books last week, and I stumbled across this fabulous tome: English Literature: An Illustrated Record in Four Volumes. Volume II: From the Age of Henry VIII to the Age of Milton. Part II, by Richard Garnett and Edmund Gosse (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905). It has illustrations on nearly every page, most of which are title pages from the books under discussion. Some are gorgeous, some are appalling, nearly all are interesting. And they’re all well within the public domain.
The problem with Google Books, as I’m sure I’ve complained here before, is that you can’t search for images the way you can use Google Image Search to paw through everything else on the Web. So as a service to the field, I’ve pulled out some of my favorite examples from this book (mostly by taking screenshots from the downloadable PDF), cleaned them up in Photoshop as well as I could, posted them to Flickr, and tagged the hell out of them. I’ve tried to decipher every bit of lettering on most of the images, as well as the captions by Garnett/Gosse, so that it’s all searchable.
Anyone who knows Latin will be amused by my misreadings, I’m sure, but I think my renderings of the English bits are pretty accurate. Please feel free to add tags or correct me in the comments. If you think my transcriptions are wrong but you can’t read the text on the JPEG artifact–strewn screenshots I’ve posted, you, too, can download the whole PDF from Google Books and see what you can make of it. Or maybe you could go to Harvard and pore over the original.
Perhaps somebody else would like to take on one of the other books from the series?
- Volume I: From the Beginnings to the Age of Henry VIII
- Volume II: From the Age of Henry VIII to the Age of Milton
- Part I — doesn’t seem to have been digitized yet
- Volume III: From Milton to Johnson
- Volume IV: From the Age of Johnson to the Age of Tennyson