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Winter Staff Picks: Classics Edition

The Delaware Art Museum has a long history of honoring the art of the book, from exhibitions such as “The Cover Sells the Book” to Librarian and Archivist Rachael DiEleuterio creating brilliant displays and lovingly tending to the Museum’s expansive archive of literary treasures. This goes hand-in-hand with our increased literary programming, such as the Wilmington Writers Conference. Naturally, we fell in love with Penguin Clothbound Classics, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Read on to learn why we chose these iconic tales.


Jessa, Lead Museum Associate: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

“I confess: my reference point for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was, for a very long time, through the classic animated Disney adaptation. Here was a world that was bright, weird and completely chaotic. Nothing could make more sense to me as a child. Reading the book when I got older only intensified my love for all things Alice. Being normal was never in the cards for me. I’m much more at home in a world populated by pink flamingos, psychedelic tea parties, and hookah-smoking caterpillars than I am in the real world.”

Laurie, Museum Associate: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

“In this medieval version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, join a rag-tag variety of characters as they – instead of defeating Thanos – venture on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, England. Knights in shining armor, talking animals, an underrepresentation of women, and copious amounts of fart jokes make this an anthology for the ages.”

Rachael, DelArt Librarian/Archivist: Dracula by Bram Stoker

“Designer Coralie Bickford-Smith’s book covers are not only gorgeous, they’re also witty, and it’s fun to make the connection between the text and the binding. The beautiful design on Dracula, for example, looks at first like a simple floral pattern weaving across the dark cover. Upon closer inspection, however, you discover that they’re not just any flowers—they are garlic flowers, woven together like the protective necklace that Lucy wears in the story. Bickford-Smith said she liked the idea of giving the reader some protection against the vampire as well, stating ‘I wanted to trap Dracula inside the book, that the garlic flowers on its outside would keep you safe.'”

Saliym, Museum Associate: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

“During the summers of my youth, Sunday was always family movie night. The Count of Monte Cristo was the first film that we all solidly enjoyed. It was so good, we even listened to the audiobook. We still chuckle thinking about how every character, whether from witty retort or surprise, went “pale” every other page. One really can’t prepare for how funny and surprisingly modern this classic tale of revenge truly is.”

In addition to these classics, we’ve also created custom journals in honor of DiEleuterio’s digital exhibition on Albert Angus Turbayne and a lovely book on the poet William Blake that is currently on view in our Pre-Raphaelite gallery. Stop into the store to see all of these goodies in person! In the mood for some online retail therapy? We have you covered! Check out our shop section for the journals; for the Penguin Clothbound Classics, head to the Staff Picks lists on our Bookshop page or click the links above to go to Bookshop. Your Bookshop purchase supports our store as well as other independent booksellers!

Rachael’s digital exhibition “Nearest to Perfection: The Binding Designs of Albert Angus Turbayne” is available here.