Edmund H Garrett produced these monochrome illustrations for an 1897 edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. In total, there are 16 full-page etchings, as well as a number of smaller prints embedded within the text.
Who is Edmund Garrett?
Garrett was a renowned American illustrator, author and painter who produced illustrations from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. A prolific worker often in demand, he created images for numerous works of literature by authors ranging from Austen to Tennyson. Primarily, the illustrations are produced as woodcuts and etchings.
Garrett's approach to the text
Some of Garrett’s illustrations are classical representations true to the text. In others, however, the artist playfully engages with the text. The etching entitled, ‘You don’t hesitate to take a place at my side, do you?’ shows Jane and Rochester sitting closely together, their arms appearing to touch, surrounded by an idyllic frame of flowers and trees.
Indeed, Garrett frequently visualises the relationships between two characters. Brocklehurst is drawn with disproportionate limbs and a figure that contrasts against the background, making him appear to loom imposingly before the child Jane.
Garrett’s final etching depicts Bertha’s suicide and the burning of Thornfield. Again this striking image appears to come from Garrett’s imagination, as it is not directly described within the text. Bertha appears supernatural, her legs disappearing into darkness, her hair and clothing resembling the flames in the background. As in Garrett’s other images, he captures a great sense of movement. Unlike other contemporary illustrations, Garrett does not draw on physical racial stereotypes to portray Bertha.