Old Edition of Jane Eyre Should Be New Again

Alison Morris - September 3, 2008

One of my favorite books in my home library is a copy of Jane Eyre I bought in an antique store for a handful of dollars. Published by Random House in 1943, this out-of-print edition was illustrated with engravings by Fritz Eichenberg and features one of the most beautiful and intriguing book covers I’ve seen, with Eichenberg’s etching of Jane and her fellow schoolgirls printed directly onto the book’s boards (no dust jacket). I think we’d sell a LOT more copies of Jane Eyre at our store if it boasted this cover!

Eichenberg’s engravings throughout the book reflect the dark, moody mystery of Charlotte Brontë’s beloved story, and I dearly wish an edition sporting his shadowy images was still in print. Do you?

I’ve scanned several of the illustrations from my own copy and pasted them below. Clicking on any image will open a larger version in a new window.

36 thoughts on “Old Edition of Jane Eyre Should Be New Again

  1. Charlotte Raymond

    You are so right, and I’ve often thought so, too. The images are haunting and unforgettable. (Kept my brother and me up at night.) Have you seen its companion volume, the Eichenberg edition of Wuthering Heights? The two should be published as a set.

  2. Sara

    Wow, those are GREAT! So eye-catching, and right in line with the current practice of commissioning contemporary graphic artists to tart up old classics. This would look surprisingly at home on a book table next to those deluxe Penguin Classics.

  3. Charles

    This is the edition I read several years ago. I picked it up at a library sale, along with the companion volume, Wuthering Heights. The two were originally published together in a slipcase, which I’ve since seen. Great editions, easily available online. I agree, Random should reprint these, if they still have the rights to the marvelous illustrations.

  4. Anna M Lewis

    That’s the same edition I have in my china cabinet. I bought it at the local antique/used book store… I was buying a gift/book for DH and HAD to get something for myself! I also still have my very dog-eared 12th edition Signet Classic.

  5. Nancy Silverrod

    This was originally published as a boxed set with Wuthering Heights, and may have been a book club edition: we inherited it along with many other books (including many book club editions) from an uncle when I was about nine. I wish I still had it.

  6. Jenn

    I have this edition also, and I love it! I found it just the same way you did, and I’m so glad I bought it. It has a special spot on my bookshelf, and always causes friends to comment. The etchings are so unusual and interesting that I can usually convince Bronte skeptics to give the book a shot…(but not with this copy, of course).

  7. Sam

    I love it! Those are beautiful. Though the cover image rather looks like the girls are marching to Auschwitz. It creeps me out probably more than was intended.

  8. Stacey

    If my recent movie viewing memory serves it is indeed the edition used in Definitely Maybe. I love this book and make a point of reading it at least once a year.

  9. Sheila

    I saw it in Definitely, Maybe as well. Loved the movie. Huge fan of the book. I read it every single year. And I own the movie that Masterpiece Theater did in 06 (I think) which is the best Jane Eyre movie yet!!!

  10. Susan Mitchell

    I have the same copy along with Wuthering Heights.I always seem to read it in the winter when cold and windy outside and cosy inside. And the illustrations accompany the story perfectly – they are so dark and dramatic.

  11. KellyM

    I read this exact book in college, loved it and always wanted my own copy. So while clearing out my mother-in-law’s apartment I found copies of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, both with engravings by Fritz Eichenberg and in good condition. These will be required reading for my three girls.

  12. Brianna Elise

    I have both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre together in a box. I found them years ago for only $15 at a local antique shop. It is one of my favorites, although I have since found a 2nd edition Jane Eyre – with no pictures, sadly. I for one agree that the etchings add a certain something and should be in print again. However, I do think most of the youth of today would not be enticed by these haunting pictures. As a young English Literature student, I find myself to be a dying breed.

  13. michael5000

    I just read reviewed Jane Eyre from this terrific edition. I bought my copy at a used book sale for two bucks. The Eichenberg engravings are quite nice, but I also enjoyed the larger-than-usual dimensions and two-column layout of the book design. The text itself is the important thing, of course, but in this case the physical book itself added a little grace note of elegance to the reading experience.

  14. christine

    im am tryin gto get this edition off of ebay for my self the wood work by Eichenberg are amazing jane eyre has been my favorite book since my mom read it to me when i was little i love the romance and beauty of the book i wish people still talked like this now its just beautiful

  15. sarah

    I purchased a copy of this edition from Etsy.com. It’s so wonderful I’m keeping it out on a display shelf because it really is a work of art. Thanks for featuring it!

  16. nandee

    I have the same set of Bronte’s books vintage 1943. However, they are misbound. The pages were put into the binding upside down and backwards. Do you think this make these 2 books rare and/or possibly valuable??

  17. Darcy

    Like noted in the comment above, my Wuthering Heights is misbound (though my Jane Eyre is correct). I’m wondering about how rare this is as well.

    1. Carole

      Just came across my childhood 1943 editions of both Jane Eyre, and Heights. They are in very good condition, and I would like to find a good home fore them as I am moving to a smaller home, and just can’t keep everything

  18. emily

    i too have these, they were my mother’s. the image were burned into my consciousness, as i read these editions when i was quite young. the jane eyre is so terrifying, so painful..the wuthering heights so dark and romantic and mysterious. it’s great to read about others who know these engravings which intensify the tales.

  19. Jennifer

    I love this Eichenberg boxed set. Creepily compelling. At various church and library sales, I have acquired a few too many of these editions. Therefore, I almost always have a set listed on etsy – just search under callmejasper.

  20. Laura

    If there is any possibility to e-mail or post more of the books literary text pls do so.I`m currently working on a full analysis of the old version and the new version. I have the new but not the old one. And I`m also a big fan of Jane Eyre.

    1. suman

      Hey! i recently aquired a very old edition of Jane Eyre. the preface says ‘Note to third edition’ and is signed off as 1848.
      It also says ‘printed in great britain’.
      and the number of pages 502.
      It is cloth bound and no publisher name.
      can u tell me which year is it actually of? cus its too very hard to believe that its 160+ years old!
      id love it if u reply to sumanisgreat@gmail.com

  21. Lori

    Hey, does anyone remember what movie this book set was featured in recently(within the last couple of years)? We watched it but I can’t remember what it was about or the actor’s names. It was set in modern time, had this exact book set in it but wasn’t actually about Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

    1. Lauren

      I believe you’re thinking of Definitely, Maybe with Ryan Reynolds. One of the three women, the one he ends up with at the end, is looking for a copy of Jane Eyre she got from her father and Ryan Reynold’s character finds the one she is looking for in a thrift shop. Hope this helps 🙂

  22. Lingeringlines

    Just caught the end of the movie, Definitely, Maybe, and didn’t quite catch what book was being shown on screen so I googled and found my answer here…thank you for the delightful discovery of this vintage copy of Jane Eyre. I also REALLY got a kick out of reading the post from Lee Bennett Hopkins, a favorite children’s poet of mine through the years!


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