Illustrating the Rime

The French engraver Gustave Doré produced about 40 original illustrations for an edition of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner published in 1870. These stunning images are now in the public domain. You can also buy a first edition for $4000, which is still more reasonable than the second edition of Lyrical Ballads.

Plate 8: "I shot the albatross"

Plate 8: “I shot the albatross”

Plate 35: "I know the man that must hear me"

Plate 35: “I know the man that must hear me”


While Doré’s are the most iconic illustrations of the Rime, numerous artists have taken on the challenge. Here’s one by Joseph Noel Paton, from 1893:


Patten Wilson (who, from the looks of it, didn’t feel like drawing an albatross), from 1898



Gerald Metcalfe, from 1907:


Any of these series of prints could lead to an excellent blog post: What aspects of the poem does each illustrator focus on, or leave out? How does Coleridge’s modes of presenting supernatural creatures and/or psychological torment differ from the visual renderings?

Images courtesy of Oxford University and John Coulthart.


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