Like Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote short stories referencing imaginary books, Charles Dickens filled part of his study with fake books whose fantastical titles he invented. He had a bookbinder create imitation book-backs that he affixed to real books.
The effect is rather dazzling. Titles evoke a magical world whose contents we are left to imagining, like Five Minutes in China, 3 vols…Jonah’s Account of the Whale…Drowsy’s Recollections of Nothing, 3 vols. The full list is below.
Designer Ann Sappenfield brought Dicken’s library to life: she made her own fake bookbindings with Dickens’ titles for an exhibition at the New York Public Library.
History of a Short Chancery Suit
Catalogue of Statues of the Duke of Wellington
Five Minutes in China. 3 vols.
Forty Winks at the Pyramids. 2 vols.
Abernethy on the Constitution. 2 vols.
Mr. Green’s Overland Mail. 2 vols.
Captain Cook’s Life of Savage. 2 vols.
A Carpenter’s Bench of Bishops. 2 vols.
Toot’s Universal Letter-Writer. 2 vols.
Orson’s Art of Etiquette.
Downeaster’s Complete Calculator.
History of the Middling Ages. 6 vols.
Jonah’s Account of the Whale.
Captain Parry’s Virtues of Cold Tar.
Kant’s Ancient Humbugs. 10 vols.
Bowwowdom. A Poem.
The Quarrelly Review. 4 vols.
The Gunpowder Magazine. 4 vols.
Steele. By the Author of “Ion.”
The Art of Cutting the Teeth.
Matthew’s Nursery Songs. 2 vols.
Paxton’s Bloomers. 5 vols.
On the Use of Mercury by the Ancient Poets.
Drowsy’s Recollections of Nothing. 3 vols.
Heavyside’s Conversations with Nobody. 3 vols.
Commonplace Book of the Oldest Inhabitant. 2 vols.
Growler’s Gruffiology, with Appendix. 4 vols.
The Books of Moses and Sons. 2 vols.
Burke (of Edinburgh) on the Sublime and Beautiful. 2 vols.
King Henry the Eighth’s Evidences of Christianity. 5 vols.
Miss Biffin on Deportment.
Morrison’s Pills Progress. 2 vols.
Lady Godiva on the Horse.
Munchausen’s Modern Miracles. 4 vols.
Richardson’s Show of Dramatic Literature. 12 vols.
Hansard’s Guide to Refreshing Sleep. As many volumes as possible
Rather than bind the books with new titles, we’re thinking we could just make paper covers with imaginary titles and wrap some of our books in them. In doing so change we’d change our library, and our view.
The Autobiography of a Tree…