This isn’t exactly about cover art, though some of Kay Nielsen’s drawings have graced the covers of picture books and storybook anthologies. Nielsen is an acclaimed illustrator from the earlier part of the 20th century.
I’ve had a copy of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, illustrated by Nielsen, since childhood. I was intrigued by his style and wanted to see more of his work after I revisited the book this week. This led to an overly long time spent researching folktale illustrations (hey, I guess that would be useful for publishing…?), especially Norwegian ones.
I’m half Norwegian, and have found myself very interested in my roots lately. Nielsen is Danish, but he has done plenty of work on Norwegian folktales. He died in poverty–a sad ending for someone so talented. I find it discouraging that so many creative visionaries find themselves in less than desirable circumstances at their deaths (with notable exceptions, of course, such as Walt Disney).
What’s even more discouraging is that this book now sells for near $40,000, and the author sees none of the profits (well, that would be hard since he’s been dead for years, but you know what I mean).
Some illustrations from East of the Sun and West of the Moon, by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe, published 1914 by Hodder & Stoughton:
And an illustration not from the collection:
Now, finally, the actual book. The original edition from 1914:
Folio released a new edition of the book in 2000.
My version (1977, Dover):
Apparently it’s worth around $200…I guess we’ll be keeping that one. Maybe in the year 2050 we’ll be able to sell the book as an artifact.
Thanks for reading! Cheers!