Artist Research – Sarah Gillespie

Sarah Gillespie has a talent for incredible photo-realist charcoal landscapes which have a great sense of atmosphere.

Gillespie has recently gained recognition for her book jackets for the Vintage Novel collection of the Brontë sisters’ novels, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. The three titles chosen are Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Anne Brontë’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ and Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’.

Her knack for recreating the English countryside suits the brief perfectly here as they set the scene for the 17th century English novels. When describing her choice of using landscapes for her designs, Gillespie said:

“I always take into account how a certain classic has been packaged through various eras,” she says. “When looking back I found that most of the past Bronte covers featured figures, so I decided to work in a different direction.”¹

The wraparound image of both the outside and inside cover works really well here as it allows the reader to get fully immersed in rural England’s landscapes.


Her hand-drawn type brings a more modern and playful edge to the covers. My only criticism here is the positioning of the titles which is in the centre of the page, making the book almost look like a notebook rather than a novel. This was however partly down to the oval around the title and author name which may not be suited to placement on a third of the page.


quote-1The back of the novel cover has only a short quote on top of the image surrounded by a playful hand-drawn border. I think this is a clever idea as it brings a feel of mystery to the novels as the reader gains intrigue as to the full story behind the quote. This however could be risky, as a bad choice for the quote could lead to disinterest of the words inside, despite how beautiful the cover.

Something I especially admire about the series is that it brings great novels back into the home of the new generation as the appealing and aesthetically pleasing look of the books gives the objects a dual purpose of both significant texts and beautiful accessories to a room. Bringing great literature to the hands of new generations via any avenue, even a face level reason for being pretty and ‘Pinterest worthy’, I believe to be a great thing as it ensures great writing will not cease to be remembered with every passing generation.

  1. Sinclair, M. (2015) Capturing a sense of place in a new Brontë series. Available at: (Accessed: 4 August 2016).
  2. Gillespie, S. (2014) Contemporary British landscape paintings. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).

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