Author(s): Walt Whitman
W is for Whitman. When Walt Whitman self-published his Leaves of Grass in July 1855, he altered the course of literary history. One of the greatest masterpieces of American literature, it redefined the rules of poetry while describing the soul of the American character. Throughout his life, Whitman continuously revised and expanded the book, but the 1855 original marked Whitman's fresh and bold arrival, greeted by Ralph Waldo Emerson as 'the beginning of a great career.'
Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & BooksPraise for "Leaves of Grass" "I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of "Leaves of Grass". I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. . . . I rubbed my eyes a little to see if this sunbeam were no illustion; but the solid sense of the book is a sober certainty." --Ralph Waldo Emerson Praise for Penguin Drop Caps: "Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers.... Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections." --Maria Popova, "Brain Pickings" "The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of "Great Expectations"? Because they're beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische's fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen's A ("Pride and Prejudice") is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte's B ("Jane Eyre") is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf." --Rex Bonomelli, "The New York Times" "Drool-inducing." --"Flavorwire" "Classic reads in stunning covers--your book club will be dying." --"Redbook"
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born on Long Island and educated in Brooklyn, NY. He served as a printer's devil, journeyman compositor, and itinerant schoolteacher, edited the Long Islander, and in 1846 became editor of The Brooklyn Eagle, a position from which he was discharged for political reasons. After a period in New Orleans, considered seminal in shaping his philosophy, he returned to Brooklyn. Although he had earlier affected the mien of a dandy, he now dressed as a "rough," and became prominent among the bohemian element of New York. In 1855 he published the first of many editions of "Leaves of Grass." The Civil War found him working as an unofficial nurse to Northern and Southern soldiers in army hospitals in Washington D.C. After the war he became a clerk in the Indian Bureau of the Department of the Interior, from which he was shortly dismissed by the Secretary on the grounds that LEAVES OF GRASS was an immoral book. During his last nineteen years he lived in Camden, New Jersey. Among his works are "Drum-Taps" (1865), "Democratic Vistas" and "Passage to India" (1871), and "Specimen Days" (1882). Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator, typographer, and web designer. She currently serves on the Type Directors Club board of directors, has been named a "Forbes Magazine" "30 under 30" in art and design as well as an ADC Young Gun and one of "Print Magazine"'s "New Visual Artists." She has designed for Wes Anderson, "McSweeney's," Tiffany & Co, Penguin Books and many others. She resides primarily in San Francisco, occasionally in Brooklyn.