Tono Bungay by H G Wells

Tono Bungay

Tono Bungay by H.G. Wells
Illustrator:  Stan Washburn
San Francisco, Arion Press, 2008
Size of book: 238mm x 162mm x 35mm
Bound 2014
Private Collection

Full leather linen board attachment. Hand dyed fair goat with impressed lace. Silk headbands. Edges have been decorated with graphite and pure pigment with a wax finish. Skull & crossbones design blocked using hologram and metallic red foil.

The leather jointed endpapers and doublures are etching press relief prints using the same patterned lace as the covering leather.


This story is a satire on the “power of advertising and the press”. It is a poke at the British class system and of Victorian society. Tono-Bungay is the name of a fake cure-all, a “quack elixir” that becomes incredibly successful.

When I was studying the text, all I could see in my mind’s eye were flocked Victorian wallpaper patterns and the restricting First Mourning dress. I found some appropriate lace to recreate this look. The skull and crossbones derives from 2 things within the text: “Quap” – a radioactive compound and from a linear drawing by the illustrator Stan Washburn.

I wanted a rich, deep repetitive design with a discrete menacing element.