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Your Favorite Authors Design New Covers for First Editions of Your Favorite Classics

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Leah Rachel von Essen

Senior Contributor

Leah Rachel von Essen reviews genre-bending fiction for Booklist, and writes regularly as a senior contributor at Book Riot. Her blog While Reading and Walking has over 10,000 dedicated followers over several social media outlets, including Instagram. She writes passionately about books in translation, chronic illness and bias in healthcare, queer books, twisty SFF, and magical realism and folklore. She was one of a select few bookstagrammers named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit50 in 2022. She is an avid traveler, a passionate fan of women’s basketball and soccer, and a lifelong learner. Twitter: @reading_while

Have you ever wondered what a Dean McKean cover for The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot would look like? Have you ever wished you could buy a copy of Fahrenheit 451 that Neil Gaiman has personally designed?

No, I’ve never thought about it either, but it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. On December 11, Sotheby’s, in partnership with Winsor & Newton, will be auctioning off a collection called “First Editions: Re-covered” to benefit House of Illustration, a public art gallery dedicated to the art of illustration. Leading contemporary artists, as well as some other well-known names, have created dust jackets for 33 first editions of famous works, and they’ll be auctioned off.

I need to emphasize this: these are real first editions of these classics, and famous designers and authors have created new and gorgeous covers for them. Neil Gaiman created his cover by hand, with ink and matches and crafts. These books include everything from a first edition of Metamorphosis re-covered by Peter Capaldi to a first edition of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit re-covered by Audrey Niffenegger. Chris Riddell illustrates the cover of Titus Groan, and Shaun Tan has created a bizarre, structural cover for Animal FarmHere are just a couple of my favorites:

Personally, I would die over the Neil Gaiman re-cover of Fahrenheit 451, and I wish I had a month or three’s worth of rent to dole out on this and add to my collection. Which is your favorite?