Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Book illustration project

A series of illustrations drawn from one of my favourite books – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Suzanna Clarke.

A Little Box, The Colour of Heartache

A little box, the colour of heartache

“The box was small and oblong and apparently made of silver and porcelain. It was a beautiful shade of blue, but then again not exactly blue, it was more like lilac. But then again, not exactly lilac either, since it had a tinge of grey in it. To be more precise, it was the colour of heartache. But fortunately neither Miss Greysteel nor Aunt Greysteel had ever been much troubled by heartache and so they did not recognize it.”
–Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

There is another wonderful passage where Stephen Black praises the colour of the box and the gentleman with the thistle down hair tells him exactly how to extract the colour (tears from spinsters who’ve lived perfectly respectable lives and had not a single moment of joy)

The Two Lady Poles

The Two Lady Poles

“He saw not one woman, but two – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he saw the same woman doubled. Both sat in the same posture, looking at him. They occupied the same space. So that he had the same giddy feeling in looking at her as he had walking through the corridors.”

One version of Lady Pole sat in the house in Yorkshire; she wore an ivory coloured morning dress and regarded him with calm indifference, the other version was fainter – more ghostly she sat in the gloomy labyrinthine house, dressed in a blood red evening gown. There were jewels or stars in her dark hair and she regarded him with fury and hatred.”

Stephen Black & The Gentleman with the Thistledown hair

Stephen Black & The Gentleman with Thistledown Hair

“Together, he and Stephen admired his reflection in the mirror.

Stephen could not help but notice how they perfectly complemented each other: gleaming black skin next to opalescent white skin, each a perfect example of a particular type of masculine beauty. Exactly the same thought seemed to strike the gentleman.

“How handsome we are!” He said in a wondering tone. “But I see now that I have made a horrible blunder! I took you for a servant in this house! But that is quite impossible! Your dignity and handsomeness proclaim you to be of noble, perhaps kingly birth! You are a visitor here, I suppose, as I am. I must beg your pardon for imposing upon you and thank you for the great service you have done me making me ready to meet the beautiful Lady Pole.”

Place the Moon at His Eyes

Place the Moon at His Eyes

“Place the moon at his eyes and her whiteness shall devour the false sights the deceiver has placed there.

Place a swarm of bees at his ears. Bees love truth and will destroy the deceiver’s lies.

Place salt in his mouth lest the deceiver attempt to delight him with the taste of honey, or disgust him with the taste of ashes.

Nail his hand with an iron nail so that he shall not raise it to do the deceiver’s bidding.

Place his heart in a secret place so that all his desires shall be his own and the deceiver shall find no hold there.

Memorandom. The colour red may be found beneficial.”

The Prophecy of John Uskglass, the Raven King

“Magic shall be written upon the sky by the rain but they shall not be able to read it;

Magic shall be written on the faces of the stony hills but their minds shall not be able to contain it;

In winter the barren trees shall be a black writing but they shall not understand it.”

Lost Hope Beckons

Lost Hope Beckons

The lights from Lost Hope glinting through the strange woods.

Fairy at Lost Hope Ball

Fairy at Lost Hope Ball

“She wore a gown the colour of storms, shadows, and rain and a necklace of broken promises and regrets.”

The Tincture of Madness

The Tincture of Madness

“After a few minutes he looked out of the window and into the Campo Santa Maria Zobenigo. People were walking up and down. The backs of their heads were hollowed out; their faces were nothing but thin masks at the front. Within each hollow a candle was burning. This was so plain to him now, that he wondered he had never noticed it before. He imagined what would happen if he went down into the street and blew some of the candles out. It made him laugh to think of it. He laughed so much that he could no longer stand. His laughter echoed round and round the house. Some small remaining shred of reason warned him that he ought not to let the landlord and his family know what he was doing so he went to bed and muffled the sound of his laughter in the pillows, kicking his legs from time to time with the sheer hilarity of the idea.

Next morning he awoke in bed, fully dressed and with his boots still on. Apart from the dull, greasy feeling that generally results from sleeping in one’s clothes, he believed he was much as usual. He washed, shaved and put on fresh clothes. Then he went out to take something to eat and drink.

There was a little coffee-house he liked on the corner of the Calle de la Cortesia and the Campo San Angelo. All seemed well until the waiter approached his table and put the cup of coffee down upon it.

Strange looked up and saw a glint in the man’s eye like a tiny candle-flame. He found he could no longer recall whether people had candles in their heads or not. He knew there was a world of difference between those two notions: one was sane and the other was not, but he could not for the life of him remember which was which.

This was a little unsettling.”

The Tower of Night

The Tower of Night

“When the sun had risen that morning, it had risen in every part of the city except one – the parish of Santa Maria Zobenigo, which was where Strange lived. There, Night continued to reign”

Beyond the Piazza rose up the Black Pillar of Night ; they passed beneath the arch of the Atrio and between the silent houses. The Darkness began halfway across a little bridge. It was the eeriest thing in the world to see how the flakes of snow, falling aslant, were sucked suddenly into it, as if it were a living thing that ate them up with greedy lips.

They took one last look at the silent city and stepped into the Darkness. They alleys were deserted. The inhabitants of the parish had fled to relatives and friends in other parts of the city. But the cats of Venice – who are as contrary a set of creatures as the cats of any other city – had flocked to Santa Mara Zubenigo to dance and hunt and play in the Endless Night which seemed to them to be a sort of high holiday. In the Darkness cats brushed Dr. Greysteel and Frank; and several times Dr. Greysteel caught sight of glowing eyes watching him from a doorway. “

Drawlight in the Brambles

Drawlight in the Brambles

There was a rustling sound. To Lascelles’s surprise he saw that a small shoot was poking out of Drawlight’s right eye (the left one had been destroyed by the pistol blast.) Strands of ivy were winding themselves about his neck and chest. A holly shoot had pierced his hand; a young birch had shot up through his foot; a hawthorn had sprung up through his belly. He looked as if he’d been crucified upon the wood itself. But the trees did not stop there; they kept growing. A tangle of brands and scarlet stems blotted out his ruined face, and his limbs and body decayed as plants and other living things took strength from them. Within a short space of time nothing of Christopher Drawlight remained. The trees, stones and the earth had taken him inside themselves, but in their shape it was possible to discern something of the man he had once been.

“That briar was his arm, I think,” mused Lascelles. That stone… his heart perhaps?” It is small enough and hard enough.” He laughed. “That is the ridiculous thing about Strange’s magic,” he said to no one at all. “Sooner of later if all works against him.” He mounted on his horse and rode back towards the road.

Drawlight in the brambles from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke

Chapter: ‘I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood’

The Raven’s Eye

The Raven’s Eye

“Then all the visions disappeared, except for one. It filled one of the tall library windows, but what it was a vision of, Mr. Norell was at a loss to know.

It resembled a large, perfectly round, black stone of almost impossible brilliance and glossiness, set into a thin ring of rough stone and mounted upon what appeared to be a black hillside . Mr. Norell thought of it as a hillside because it bore some resemblance to a moon where the heather is all burnt and charred – except that this hillside was not the black of burnt things, it was the black of wet silk or well-shone leather. Suddenly the stone did something – it moved or spun. The movement was almost too quick to grasp but Mr. Norell was left with the sickening impression that it had blinked. “

Lady of the Plucked Eye & Heart

Lady of the Plucked Eye & Heart

“The road goes on a little way and then leads into a wood of thorn trees. ⁠

At the entrance to the wood is a statue of a woman with her hands outstretched. ⁠

In one hand she holds a stone eye and in the other a stone heart. As for the wood itself…” ⁠

Childermass made a gesture perhaps expressive of his inability to describe what he had seen, or perhaps of his powerlessness in the face of it. ⁠

“Corpses hand from eye tree. Some might have died as recently as yesterday. Others are no more than age-old skeletons dressed in rusting armour. I came to a high tower built of rough -hewn stones. The walls were pierced with a few tiny windows. There was a light at one of them and the shadow of someone looking out.”⁠

Thank you for making it to the end

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Published by Janine Shroff

Designer & Illustrator based in London. I specialise in UI/UX, branding, hand-drawn illustration & painting.