Frankenstein, Centipede Press Limited Edition & Deluxe Limited Edition

There are many editions of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic tale Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus  for discerning readers to choose from.  Many consider the finest illustrations ever done for Frankenstein to be the wood engravings by Lynd Ward (1905-1985). Ward is considered one of the founders of the American graphic novel and was a pre-eminent illustrator of books in the early to mid twentieth century, especially known for his wood engravings.  Centipede Press, in 2006, published a stunning edition of Frankenstein that, for the first time in over 70 years, includes all of Ward’s engravings. It is the Centipede Press version reviewed, with plenty of pictures, below.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) was a remarkable women, surrounded by a pretty remarkable family.  Her father, William Godwin, was a famous political philosopher.  Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, herself a famous and accomplished writer and early advocate for women’s rights.  Mary Shelley married Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the greatest lyric poets in all of English history.  The story of their ‘romance’ is itself a story for the ages, born of scandal and controversy.

The story of Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein is pretty well known.  In 1816, on vacation at Lake Geneva, Mary Wollstonecraft {Shelley}, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori and a couple others were sitting around a log fire reading German ghost stories, when Byron suggested they each write a supernatural tale of horror. From this competition, Frankenstein was born, a creature first seen within a dream of 18 year old Mary Wollstonecraft {Shelley}.  In 1818, Frankenstein was published anonymously, with a subsequent edition published a few years later under Mary Shelley’s name.

Part Gothic, part Romantic, part science fiction, with its warnings of man’s progress outpacing his ability to control impacts of that progress, along with its questioning of the morality of unimpeded science, Frankenstein remains hugely influential and relevant today.  The Greek mythology of Prometheus is referred to in the subtitle, with Shelley’s Prometheus (Victor Frankenstein) punished for his creation, just as Prometheus, the creator of man in some Greek mythology, is punished for bringing fire to man against Zeus’ wishes. Shelley is essentially questioning the “gifts” of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, both of which offered much hope to mankind, but also much to fear.

About these Editions:

Centipede’s Frankenstein comes in two versions, a deluxe limited edition (DLE) of 22 copies, and a Limited Edition (LE) of 500. The book itself is largely the same in terms of binding, paper, etc, except that the deluxe limited version is signed by Patrick McGrath, has a red overlay between the frontispiece and title page (the limited edition has a translucent overlay), and is numbered in red with Roman numerals (whereas the limited edition is numbered in black with Arabic numerals).  The main difference between the DLE and the LE, is the DLE comes with a suite of 20 Lynd Ward engravings loose in a separate cloth covered folder, with that folder and the book beautifully tucked into a soft leather solander box, with gilt lettering on its spine.

The DLE is very impressive in its overall package, though I will say for a lot less money, one would be very happy with the “regular” LE, at $225.  It is really the same book, with the same high quality.  In fact, the LE has the title stamped in gold on the spine, whereas the DLE does not.  So unless someone is looking for the extra prints (which are very nice!), or just loves the overall presentation of the DLE (which would be easy to do), the LE is more than adequate.  In fact, I think it is a fantastic book; I love the Ward illustrations, the paper is very nice, and the illustrations and text are very sharp and well done.

  • Designed by Jerad Walters at Centipede Press
  • Composed in Trump Mediaeval
  • Mohawk Superfine paper, using a Hewlett-Packard digital printing system
  • Bound by Gregor Campbell and the Campbell-Logan Bindery
  • Total of 500 Limited Editions (numbered in black with Arabic numerals) and 22 Deluxe Limited Editions (numbered in red with Roman numerals)
  • Introduction by Patrick McGrath
  • The complete wood engravings by Lynd Ward
  • Oversize, 8 × 12 inches, with head and tail bands and a ribbon marker, with a color frontispiece with a protective translucent sheet overlay.
  • Both editions bound with half leather morocco with images by Lynd Ward on the silk-cloth boards
  • The limited edition includes the title in gilt gold stamping
  • Limited edition enclosed in black and red cloth slipcase
  • The deluxe limited editions are signed by Patrick McGrath on the colophon
  • The deluxe limited editions are issued with an extra suite of the 20 Lynd Ward engravings loose in a separate cloth covered folder
  • The deluxe limited editions include the book and folder in a black and red leather traycase with gilt lettering on its spine

Frankenstein is part of Centipede’s Gothics series, with Dracula and The Golom other choices. Later this year, a limited edition The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will be published, adding to this series. Early photo ‘teases’ of this upcoming edition look fantastic, with wood engravings by Barry Moser, and an introduction by Patrick McGrath.

Pictures of Frankenstein, Centipede Press (pictures from DLE and LE, as marked)

{Ed Note:  Thanks to By the Book in Phoenix for allowing my to take pictures of a Frankenstein Centipede DLE they have in stock}.

(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition Solander Box
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition Solander Box – side view
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition, Open Solander Box, folder with extra prints on the left, book on the right
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition, Extra Prints Sample
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition, Extra Prints Sample 2
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition, Cover and Spine
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Deluxe Limited Edition, Colophon
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Limited Edition, Book in Slipcase
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Frontispiece (note sheet overlay red in DLE, translucent in LE)
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Title Page
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Sample Page with Text & Illustration
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Second Sample Pages with Text & Illustrations
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Third Sample Pages with Text & Illustrations
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Fourth Sample Pages with Text & Illustrations
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Fifth Sample Pages with Text & Illustrations
Frankenstein, Centipede Press, Limited Edition, Colophon

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