Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #109: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle


Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers,
and provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
just click HERE.

Here's my choice for this week!!

 The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
  Howard Pyle
Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Capricorn House Publishers
January 1,1931
(first published 1883)
Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Why do I love this cover?

When I first came across this cover, I thought it was for one of those collector's leatherbound editions.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was a paperback!  I believe it's a reprint, though, because I've seen the hardcover edition on Abebooks. 

The cover design is made up of elaborate patterns, on a brown background, which immediately suggests the forests in which Robin and his gang used to hide.  There’s a heraldic drawing at the top of the cover, which depicts two fierce, battling creatures -- a griffin, and a lion, with a flaming torch between them.  At the bottom of the cover, there’s another heraldic design, which incorporates a pair of wings, a shield engraved with a monogram, and, above that, a disembodied hand carrying a red heart. 

The rest of the cover is filled with very intricate line drawings suggesting foliage.

This masterpiece of a cover was created, I’m happy to report, by the great American illustrator and author, Howard Pyle.  Of course, his name appears right on the cover, but I had no idea, until I did a Google search, that he was also responsible for the book’s cover and interior illustrations!  I suppose he must have done the font used for the title and his own name, as well.  This font has the appropriate medieval look, and the letters even appear to be embossed in gold. 

Here are some samples of Pyle’s beautiful style, which does remind me somewhat of the work of Albrecht Durer, whose style I adore.  These are interior illustrations for The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and a book about King Arthur.  (These images are from Wikimedia Commons.)

 "Sir Kay breaketh his sword at ye Tournament"
(An Arthurian illustration)

Frontispiece Illustration
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

About the Artist/Author

Howard Pyle
(March 5, 1853 - November 9, 1911)

He was an American illustrator and author, born in Wilmington, Delaware, although he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.
He was interested in drawing and writing since childhood, and his mother encouraged him to study art.  He was a student of F.A. Van der Weilen in Philadelphia for three years, and also took some lessons at the Art Students League of New York.
Sometime after the year 1900, he founded his own school of illustration, after having taught at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry (now Drexel University) for about six years.
His students included many notable artists, such as N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, and Elenore Abbott.  He worked for many magazines, but is primarily known as illustrator and author of books for children and young adults.

Online Links
Delaware Art Museum
One Hundred Years of Illustration 

What do you think of my choice
this week?
Leave me a comment and 
let me know!  


  1. Great choice Maria.

    In addition to everything that you wrote, the cover really exudes the impression that it was created many centuries ago by an amateur but very skilled artisan, perhaps who lived in the forrest. Obviously Pyle was not an amateur nor do I think that he lived in a forrest. It is a testament to his skill that he created such an impression.

    I also really like the illustrations.

    Also, Kudos to you for choosing such an eclectic variety of book covers for this meme. Like yourself I too like the newer, often color science fiction/fantasy/mystical pictures that you often showcase. But I also like this very traditional art also.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Hey, Brian!

      I agree with everything you say about this cover. It does indeed look like it's handcrafted. And as I pointed out in my post, this is the paperback edition! The handmade quality still comes through, though, which is very interesting! And the illustrations are AWESOME. I think they look very medieval.

      Thank you so much for such a nice compliment!! I like featuring eclectic covers, because my taste happens to be eclectic. I don't think I can say that there's only one particular type of cover I like. It's the same way with the books I read and review. However, there are some genres that I never read, because I don't like them at all. These are the genres of horror and erotica. I also don't like mysteries that much. The only fictional detective I LOVE is Sherlock Holmes. I should really check out Hercule Poirot, though (Agatha Christie's detective). Maybe I'll enjoy reading about his exploits, as well.

      Hope you have a great weekend, too!! Thanks for such a wonderful comment!! : )

  2. My wife is currently reading through many of Agatha Christie books. She likes the Miss Marple series better then the Poirot books.

    I myself am thinking about staying away from certain plots. As I get a little older I am finding that certain things in fiction push my buttons in a not so good way. I recently reread Frank Herbert's "The White Plague." I first read it when it first came out back in the 80s when I was in my teens. It did not bother me so much the first time around. It is a really dark book and does not lead to pleasant feelings. I think that one reason it is so disturbing is that the bad things that happen seem very plausible. There is one part on particular that really bugged me this time around. I am kind of sorry that I reread it.

    1. Hi, again, Brian!

      Oh, I forgot that Christie had also written the Miss Marple books. For some reason, I always associate her with Hercule Poirot only. Well, then I should check out those, as well!

      You know, it's very interesting how books "change" as we grow older. Of course, it's really we, the readers, who change. So it happens that a book that might have fascinated us at a younger age might very well now repel us. However, in some cases, books hated at a younger age are STILL despised later on. And the same holds true for beloved books.

      For instance, I know I will NEVER come to hate The Twilight Saga! Well, I read it fairly recently -- I DEVOURED the first two books in 2006. It was sheer AGONY to wait for the third book to come out, in 2007. And I was at the midnight release party for the fourth book, "Breaking Dawn", which came out the following year! I have so far read this series three times, and the first book, "Twilight", four times!!

      As for hated books, I know that, if I were to re-read "The Catcher In The Rye", I would probably still hate it as much as I did the first time around, when I was in high school. The same holds true for "Wuthering Heights", which I absolutely LOATHE. I have read this one three times, incredibly enough! The first time was in high school, and I never finished it back then. Several years ago, I re-read it, managing to finish it that time. Then, about a year or so later, I read it one more time, to see if it was just me, if I had missed something. Well, I hadn't. In fact, I HATED the book even more!!

      In contrast, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "Jane Eyre"!!!! This book is, in fact, my favorite classic. I love it as much as I hate "Wuthering Heights". Incredible, isn't it, considering that the authors of these two books are sisters? But oh, such very different books! Rochester and Heathcliff -- I love the former, and hate the latter!!

      One book I might not be able to stomach now is "Crime and Punishment". I don't know.....I would have to try it. I read that one when I was in my twenties.

      I could go on and on.....this is how it is for us readers! This is part of the enchantment of reading!

      Thanks for commenting again, with such an interesting observation!! : )


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