Illustrated Literature for Adults — Free PDF

Once it was common to see illustrations sprinkled within the pages of novels, but it has always been hard to find fully illustrated literature for adults. The two Mark Twain stories we have combined to create “The Diaries of Eve and Adam” (FREE PDF) were notable exceptions. “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”, published in 1904, and “Eve’s Diary”, published in 1906, were hardcover books intended primarily for adult readers and both were fully illustrated, both with illustrations on every other page. 

The illustrations in “Extracts from Adam’s Diary” had an abstract, hieroglyphic design. The artist, F. (Frederick) Strothmann, must have chosen this design to create an ancient effect. Or did he choose an abstract design to steer clear of controversy? A conventionally illustrated book about Adam and Eve would depict them unclothed - pre-fall - because that’s how the story goes. But illustrations of nude adults, no matter how discrete, risk offending someone. F. Strothmann may have intentionally avoided taking that risk. Lester Ralph, the illustrator of “Eve’s Diary”, was not so cautious. His illustrations of Adam and Eve are conventional, and they did cause a stir.  A library in Charlton MA banned “Eve’s Diary” because library staff objected to the nude depictions of Eve.

I am perhaps taking a taking greater risk than Mr. Ralph took. While Marc Johnson-Pencook used the same conventional approach to depicting Eve and Adam as Mr. Ralph did, the illustrations in “The Diaries of Eve and Adam” are displayed in a book that is primarily intended for middle-school readers. Granted, more than 100 years have passed since the original books were first published, and moral attitudes have changed somewhat. Nonetheless, we know that even discreet representations of Eve and Adam in the nude will likely offend at least some parents, maybe many. 

Our logo states that we publish “Illustrated Literature for Youngsters (and Oldsters), which is intentional messaging. Yet our target audience has always been middle school readers, which can sometimes seems odd to me odd since most of our book sales are to adults at Art Shows who say they are purchasing the books for themselves. So why not take a look at the book and decide this question for yourself: Would you feel comfortable knowing the middle school readers that you raise, teach, know, or know about would be reading the Diaries of Eve and Adam? If you wish, you can let me know what you think one way or the other.