Jane Austen Illustrators: Ann Kronheimer

Image of banner of covers of Austen Retold, by Gill Tavner, Real Reads, (2008)

 “It is very pretty,” said Mr. Woodhouse.”So prettily done! Just as your drawings always are, my dear. I do not know any body who draws so well as you do. The only thing I do not thoroughly like is, that she seems to be sitting out of doors, with only a little shawl over her shoulders — and it makes one think she must catch cold.”  Mr. Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 6



Last week was the official launch at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England of the six new Jane Austen novels retold for young readers published by Real Reads. The author Gill Tavner shared her thoughts on the writing process with us last week in this interview, and now the illustrator Ann Kronheimer has offered her insights on her interpretations of Jane Austen’s characters and scenes for young readers.

The six novels; Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion all contain over 30 illustrations each of characters, scenes and flourishes of historical objects such as bonnets, bouquets, fans, and books.

Ms. Kronheimer studied Fine Arts and then began as an illustrator with Puffin for authors Dick King-Smith, and Linda Chapman’s My Secret Unicorn and Unicorn School series.  These were in black and white, so when John Button the publisher of Real Reads first approached her explaining the idea behind the Jane Austen series, the fact that they would be in full colour was very exciting for her.

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Pride & Prejudice, Real Reads, (2008)

Elizabeth Bennet & Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice

“As always, the challenge that comes with the territory of being an illustrator is having to draw, “not a lot going on”. Lots of chatting over a cup of tea and standing around formally, trying to make it look dynamic and interesting.  I enjoyed adding background detail from period sourcebooks and a gorgeous book called Regency Style. I also watched the films and noted how many times the same piece of furniture turned up, not only within one film in different houses, but also in other films.”

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Mansfield Park, Real Reads, (2008)
Mary Crawford, Edmund Bertram & Fanny Price in Mansfield Park

“I was working to a very tight brief. I was sent Gill Tavner’s text and a list of illustrations. As there are so many illustrations per book, if I had been able to choose what to illustrate it would probably have been pretty much the same as her list.  I produced pencil roughs first which I emailed over. The designer then laid them out on the page with the text and Gill and the others would check them through before I then went on to the colour artwork. Gill, also rather brilliantly, had pulled together all the descriptive passages or sometimes just words, on each of the characters to help me visualize them.”

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Northanger Abbey, Real Reads, (2008)

Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey

“I enjoy trying to convey character, demeanor and mood. I seem to have made rather a lot of use of eyebrows, and I think I got better at it as the books went along. If Jane Austen had written another few books maybe I would have got it down to a tee!”

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Sense & Sensibility, Real Reads, (2008)     Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Sense & Sensibility, Real Reads, (2008) 

Left) Col. Brandon, Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Jennings & Elinor Dashwood;
 Right) Marianne Dashwood & Mr. Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility 

“Emma is not only my favourite book, but she was also my favourite person to draw. I could imagine her as beautiful and elegant, and, as she is well off, wearing lots of different dresses, but also, full of character. I feel there is more humour about her than the other heroines and I like that she creates mischief and heartache, refusing to listen to good advice, convinced that her meddling is right and proper. All that and she is still charming and irresistible.”

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Emma, Real Reads, (2008)

Mr. Elton & Emma Woodhouse in Emma
“One of the best things that came out of this job was discovering the work of C. E. and H. M. Brock. I especially love their tinted line drawings. I admire the amount of detail they include without any fuss and crosshatching and the flat colour makes the drawings look quite modern and graphic.One thing the Brocks had that I envied was a collection of Georgian costumes and furniture and a supply of relatives willing to stand and pose.  I was armed with a digital camera and a husband tired after work.”

Illustration by Ann Kronheimer, Persuasion, Real Reads, (2008)

The Cobb scene in Persuasion

“I was also inspired by Hugh Thomson’s wonderful drawings for Emma and Northanger Abbey, and I referred to them a lot.  I definitely am inspired to carry on illustrating Jane Austen’s work on a larger scale and allowing myself more time.”

End of interview

Image of the Cover of The Golden GooseThanks Ms. Kronheimer. It is always exciting to see Jane Austen interpreted for a new generation. Like her fellow artist that preceded her, she has infused Austen’s wit and pathos into her drawings and enhanced our enjoyment of her fine stories.

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