First published in 1764 and written by Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto is considered to be the first ‘gothic’ novel. It inspired the writing of later authors, such as Bram Stroker, Edgar Allan Poe and Daphne du Maurier.
The brief: The Castle of Otranto
The brief from Hesperus Press was to create a cover that would capture the gothic mood of the story. The client suggested looking at old castles, ruined towers and suits of armour.
The design: The Castle of Otranto
In the first instance, I provided the client with some different options for the cover – showing gothic architectural elements, stone gargoyles, ornamental door knockers, antique locks, etc. I also tried some versions that used details from medieval armour and helmets, which is something that is featured in the plot of the story. The client liked the image of the candlestick and the melted candles. It was quite a simple image but it suited the source material – dark and gothic.
I created some extra background on the image, to allow the crop to work with the text. For the book title I presented the client with some different approaches for the typeface – including Old English and script-style typefaces. In the end, to keep it legible, I chose to use a more classic serif typeface. To make the title appear more aged I created a distressed effect to the text.