Cover Story: Jane Eyre

As many times as I’m asked, the answer doesn’t change. My favorite book of all time is still Jane Eyre. This book and I are in a serious long-term relationship.  I first read it when I was around 11 and go back to it on a regular basis.  It’s my literary comfort food.

A typical Jane Eyre cover. Edition: Barnes & Noble Classics (June 1st, 2009)

I used to own a nice little collection of different copies of the book, but over the years I’ve lost a few in moves, loaned a couple out to “The Void”, and otherwise gotten rid of ones whose covers I didn’t really care for.

The problem is, this fabulous book has had more than it’s fair share of horrendous covers.  Most of them including some version of a depressing painting of a rather sad and unattractive woman dressed in drab 1840’s attire with her hair parted down the middle and pulled back  in a  bun.  Yes, I understand that Jane is described as “plain”, but for me this just doesn’t sum up the book.  There are so many more awesome elements to the story.

The other day I was appalled to do an inventory or my bookshelves and discover that the only copy I now own of Jane Eyre is in e-book format.

Entirely unacceptable.  I know!

In order to correct this embarrassing situation I started searching for a new copy.  And me being…well me…became a little bit obsessed with the covers.  While there are still more than enough fugly (or worse boring) covers out there, somewhere in the 850 or so versions I looked at I found a few gems, and of course I had to share them with you.

So without further ado, I present…

Jane Eyre Covers that Actually Rock:

Edition: Illustrated Junior Library (Oct 4, 1983 – Grosset & Dunlap) (Amazon | Goodreads)

Ok, so this one may have made the cut for purely sentimental reasons.  This is the very first copy of  Jane Eyre I ever owned (or read).  I’m pretty sure I thought it was going to be about a princess locked in a tower but I fell in love with it anyway. P.S. I  also dig that this 1983 hardcover edition is still available NEW on Amazon.

Edition: White’s Fine Edition (Sept 30, 2008 – White Books Ltd.)  (Amazon | Goodreads)

This may very well be my favorite cover.  It’s at least the copy I’m most lusting after at the moment.  In case you can’t tell from the photo, this is a hardcover fine cloth edition that pulls out all the stops.  The cover has a mysterious updated Gothic feel that manages to give us some symbolism without getting dragged down in the “Our Plain Jane heroine could look like this” trap.

Edition: Penguin Classics Deluxe (Sept. 28th, 2010 – Penguin Classics ) (Amazon | Goodreads)

This is actually part of the Couture Classics Collection Penguin has out right now.  Penguin has been getting some major respect from me lately on their re-imaginings of classic covers.  Here’s just another delicious example.  It looks like it’s ready to be morphed into a Tim Burton film.  I absolutely adore this one.

Edition: CreateSpace (July 2, 2010 ) (Amazon | Goodreads);  Tribeca Books (Dec 25, 2010) (Amazon | Goodreads)

Yep. CreateSpace.  I was as surprised as you when I finally discovered who was behind this stunning cover.  Although there seems to be some discrepancy I’m gonna go ahead and assume that Tribeca Books is publishing via CreateSpace.  Indie book design at it’s best. It’s actually quite genius.  What’s keeping other talented artists from putting out new copies of beloved classics?  I couldn’t tell you.  It’s definitely not an overnight process, but if you can design a cover as gorgeous as this and you aren’t already snatched up by a big publishing house… it’s worth looking into.   I can see this cover bringing in teens in droves.  My ONLY problem with this is that Tribeca also released their version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion this week with the exact same cover.  Um…. No. No. No.

Edition: Pocket Classics (Aug. 1st. 2010 – White’s Books Ltd.  ) (Amazon | Goodreads)

Score another point for White’s.  This time they bring us an update to the pocket paperback.  I love the look of this cover, so very Starry Night, but it does feel a touch less English countryside and a tad more American midwest.  I also worry that it’s giving away a bit too much of the book’s dramatic climax, but I love it nonetheless.

Edition: Collins Classics (April 12, 2010 – UK General Books) ( Goodreads)

I’m not even sure that this one is available in the US, but it’s more clean, modern design from a small publisher.  I’m thinking if I didn’t actually love the book, but had to read it in college….this is the cover I’d want. Especially if I was a guy.  None of that embarrassing Regency romance stuff going on here.

Edition: (2008) (Goodreads)

There is just something about this simple foreign cover (I’m not even sure of the language, let alone the publisher) that speaks to me.  Maybe it’s the sunny yellow, or the idea of the story possibly taking place in some far off exotic locale.

Edition: BBC Series Tie-In (Sept. 28, 2006 – Penguin Books, Ltd. ) (Amazon | Goodreads)

There are more than a few movie tie-in covers for this book floating around out there.  Ironically this one is the only one that really speaks to me and I think it’s the only version I’ve seen.  Have to get on that, because BBC adaptations are usually top notch.

Edition: Spinebreakers (July 1st, 2010 – Puffin Classics) (Amazon | Goodreads)

Spinebreakers editions are unapologetically and blatantly aimed at teens aged 13-17.  And I have to say the teen in me is drooling over this cover.  It’s a perfect balance between the historical and modern design.  I’m also loving the orange and pink. I’m such a geeky girl.

Edition: ( 2008  – Company of Books Leeuwarden) ( Goodreads)

This (German I beleive?) cover also gets it right.  It reminds me of Jane’s intelligence, curiosity and strength. Ultimately she leads a personal revolution of sorts, breaking out of the social norms for women of her time.

Edition: ( May 2009  – Aufbau Tb) ( Goodreads)

I’m wracking my brain for what exactly the umbrella has to do with the symbolism of the story, but honestly, my brain doesn’t really care.  It’s a contemporary cover, color scheme and design, sure to draw new readers and for that I tip my had to ATB.

Honorable Mention:

18 Replies to “Cover Story: Jane Eyre”

  1. Well researched post. Who are White Books, I agree with you — their covers are gorgeous. Well, I am in Europe and am guessing they are not.

    1. Thanks. Actually I’m pretty sure they are a UK company. Let me see what I can find.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing, this brings back such memories.

    I still remember my first experience with Jane Eyre. I was in the first grade, on the school bus riding home. One of the high school girls was reading a book–and I dearly loved books. I begged and begged for her to read me some of it and she picked the scariest couple of paragraphs she could select, where –hoping, of course, that I would go away and leave her alone.

    Of course it didn’t work, to me it was just another type of evil witch or other monster like in my fairytale books, my mother would read to me. I couldn’t wait until I learned to read well enough to read it myself and a couple of years later I did!

    She read the passage where Jane described her dream of the horrible woman in her room to Rochester. To this day, I’m not sure if she were paraphrasing, or if my mind just heard the good parts version, because it seems to me at the time, that a horrible monster was actually in Jane’s bedroom and not just being described after the fact.

    “It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell.”

    “Did you see her face?”

    “Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong glass.”

    “And how were they?”

    “Fearful and ghastly to me—oh, sir, I never saw a face like it! It was a discoloured face—it was a savage face. I wish I could forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments!”

    “Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.”

    “This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes. Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?”

    “You may.”

    “Of the foul German spectre—the Vampyre.”

    “Ah!—what did it do?”

    “Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.”


    “It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the door. Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon me—she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost consciousness: for the second time in my life—only the second time—I became insensible from terror.”

    Again, thanks for the memories. I think I’ll go reread Jane Eyre now. It’s been too long.

    1. Teresa, Thanks for sharing your memories. Isn’t it interesting how we remember the circumstances around reading great books! And the passage makes me want to go pick it up again right now too!

  3. This is a really cool post… I’ve never read Jane Eyre (I promise, I plan on it very soon!), but I own two different copies of it. Actually, the Barnes and Noble paperback that you first showed. And then I just recently bought the Antropologie Penguin copy (you can get it lots of places but Anthro is where I bought it). It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait to read BOTH copies! 🙂
    Thanks for all the fascinating copies… 🙂
    Yearning To Read

    1. That is gorgeous! I probably could have done a whole other post on hardcover collector editions, they never look as good online as they do in person though. Thanks for turning me on to that one though, I didn’t know about it. Looks like Penguin has a whole series of pretties with Anthropologie, but Jane Eryre isn’t listed anymore (at least on their site) so they might be pretty limited editions. I’d love to hear what you think when you read Jane!

  4. I’ve seen hardly any of these covers, which is amazing because Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books. This is my first time at your blog but from browsing your posts I know I will be back– great taste!

    1. Thanks so much Ash! Always glad to have another Jane Eyre gal around!

  5. I had no idea that there were so many covers for one book! The Jane Eyre covers I saw were pretty much awful. At least now I know that there’s something much better out there!

    1. Yes, I’ve just seen a few more that are tie-ins for the new movie release, one of which I very much like as well!

  6. Amazon has a new cover for their edition of Jane Eyre. It is painting of a young women with long hair standing in middle of a meadow. Do you know what painting this is? I have a replica and looking for original artist.

    1. Hi Carmen, sorry for the delayed response… I’m not positive this is the cover you are referring to, but if so, the painting is called “Windswept” by John Williams Waterhouse.

      Hope that helps you!

  7. correction it is Wilder Publications printed in 2008 now sold through Amazon.

  8. Rebekah, I love your blog about my favorite heroine, Jane Eyre. I love all those
    covers too. I use to have several hardcover copies of Jane Eyre and now only one.
    This I must rectify. Thank you for lovely post.

    1. Thanks! I’m up to three now I think since this post. Oddly enough none of which are pictured here. Lol

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