Illustrating Jim in 1923

DETAIL: Brehm, 1923

  Harper & Brothers acquired the copyrights to MT's books during his bankruptcy in the mid-1890s, and published Huck Finn in multiple formats for at least the next 8 decades. In 1923 the firm hired Worth Brehm to make 13 full-page illustrations for a new edition. Like his brother George, James Ellsworth Brehm was a prolific illustrator, especially of what were called "boys' books" -- he also illustrated Tom Sawyer for Harper. Jim appears in two of his illustrations for Huck's book. He looks considerably younger in Chapter 21, where he's a small part of the audience for the Duke's rehearsal of Hamlet's soliloquy in Chapter 21 (left), than he does in the scene from Chapter 8, where he pleads with the "ghost" of Huck. Harper apparently retired E.W. Kemble's illustrations after hiring Brehm, but Brehm's work does not seem more racially enlightened: the way his mouth hangs open in the drawing here recalls Kemble's original versions of Jim.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, Illustrated by Worth Brehm. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1923. Courtesy Lyon College Library.

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