The Mayor of Casterbridge
JUNE 11, 2008
Recently I was asked to do the cover of Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge. It's the story of the rise and fall of a man named Michael Henchard. At the beginning of the novel, Henchard is a volatile, twenty-one-year-old hay-trusser. He gets drunk at a fair and sells his wife and daughter to a sailor in an auction, which originally began as a joke, turns serious. Upon realizing that he has sold his family, Henchard searches for them to no avail, and takes an oath to give up alcohol for twenty-one years. Years later Michael's wife, Susan Henchard, and her daughter began a search for Michael Henchard, who has become the mayor of Casterbridge. The novel proceeds as many soap-opera-like events unfold. An unfavorable trait Henchard possesses is not letting go of past mistakes. Although he tries to atone for the past indiscretions, fate always seems to catch up to him. These factors and others contribute to his downfall. Covers of this sort are usually skimmed from existing art and are merely cropped. Effective, they don't however deal with the text apart from having the same general feel. I at first, hoped for an image not unlike the painting by Rembrandt Peale of Rubins Peale with a geranium. After some roughs, I did a drawing that ended up looking like Brian Rea, who I hoped would model for it if it were approved. The other sketch I liked was a profile. I saw him as frozen in his dejection and in the rain. The Profile was approved. My drawing was of an English looking man with cartoonish featured. Sadly, with some minor adjustment, I can appear cartoonish.
The usual cover
I thought this one would be perfect for Brian Rea. I wonder if he would have said yes.
This is the approved sketch
The Peale painting. It's a beauty.
Tim O'Brien is a model I frequently use. He's always available.