New cover art by Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell, Jean Jullien, Dr Who & more for first-edition classic books

See 33 beautiful new covers for classic first edition novels created by the likes of Lauren Child, Neil Gaiman, David Dowton, Gerald Scarfe, Maggi Hambling, Audrey Niffeneggar and more to be auctioned off for the House of Illustration.

Thirty-one iconic artists and designers based across the UK have each opted to create an original artwork or book cover design for a new collection of first editions of classic books by Sotheby’s London, including Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pippi Longstocking.

Sir Quentin Blake, Lauren Child, Peter Blake, Dave McKean, Gerald Scarfe, Lucinda Rogers, Jean Jullien, Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman, Axel Scheffler are among the leading artists who each have selected a book they felt a strong connection to, and have created an artwork or dust jacket in response to raise funds for London’s House of Illustration.

There are varying reasons behind the selection of each book by the artists, for example, Shaun Tan has redesigned the cover of Animal Farm by George Orwell (seen here) because it “remains the book with the deepest subconscious influence on my work as a storyteller”, he says. Meanwhile David Downton chose to recreate the cover of Dr No. by Ian Fleming because Ursula Andress is his idol since he was a teenager.

Favoured classic books include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Each book is expected to be auctioned for at least £1,000 at Sotheby’s London on December 11 towards funding House of Illustration in Granary Square – the world’s only public gallery dedicated to illustration and graphics arts. The House of Illustration was founded by Sir Quentin Blake.

The auction also includes the only piece of original artwork created by Quentin Blake for Beatrice Potter’s The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (seen here) that has come up for sale, a cover created by created by Gerald Scarfe with two new illustrations for The Making of Pink Floyd The Wall; and, ahead of his regeneration in the Dr Who Christmas special, Peter Capaldi has chosen to design a cover for Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

Image: This watercolour is an unpublished alternative version of Catherine St. Quintin (Kitty-in-Boots), comprising a "portrait from the life". The published version appears on page 13 of the book. 

You’ll be able to take a look at the bespoke artworks on display at Sotheby’s London from December 8 to 11. The evening auction is in partnership with Winsor & Newton, and runs ahead of Sothebys’ sale of English literature, history, children’s books and illustrations on December 12.

Here we feature some of the dust jackets and artworks from the First Editions: Recovered series, along with the respective artist and their story behind each one. You can register to bid on the books here.

Image: Quentin Blake's cover for Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Lewis Caroll's Through the Looking Glass.

Ian Fleming's Dr. No

David says: "The truth is I picked Dr No not for the book, but for a chance to draw Ursula Andress, my idol since I was a teenager."

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

Jean says: "I grew up watching and loving the Disney version and am always interested in revisiting popular culture landmarks. I find that their endurance to time and iteration is a tribute to their efficiency and quality."

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Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Neil says: "The temperature at which book-paper catches fire and burns..."

Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. 

Chris says: I chose Titus Groan because the world of Gormenghast castle has transfixed me ever since I discovered Mervyn Peake's trilogy as a school boy. Peake writes with a painterly eye and a wonderful feeling for the grotesque but also a poetic compassion that is beguiling. It was a wonderful experience producing a cover for this unique novel."

Astrid Lindgreen's Pippi Longstocking.

Lauren says: "I discovered Pippi Longstocking when I was eight years old and found her completely entirely free spirit."

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Gerald Scarfe's The Making of Pink Floyd The Wall

DH Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

George says: "I read this book when I was at school. It’s perfect reading for the adolescent young man struggling with his artistic ambitions, domestic mediocrity, the working class environment and not getting your leg over. It read like a documentary of my life up until I left home... I think it is stories like these that root such fancies within the real world that have shown me that it is possible to make our own rich journey through this strangeness that is life."

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

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Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea

Maggi says: "I share with the author the inspiration of the sea."

Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Audrey says: "This is a long-time favourite book of mine – Jeanette's writing is so lively and vivid, and the story of a girl raised in odd circumstances who discovers her true nature is one that I love and share."

JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Bruce says: "I first read this book at 18 and it's had a lasting impact on me. So, in a way, it chose me to illustrate a cover (I couldn't not do it). I knew it had to reflect my emotional connection rather than being too narrative. Also its setting has always been significant."

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Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.

Stephan says: "I chose Clockwork Orange as it's a perennial favourite and the film of the book changed my life."

Zadie Smith's White Teeth.

Richard says: "Zadie Smith, a Londoner, writes about what I see. I reversed the dust jacket on my copy of White Teeth, now a plain wrapper. I have trussed and mirrored it."