A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole

Illustrated by Jonny Hannah

Foreword by Walker Percy

Preface by Bill Bailey

Brilliantly conceived and outrageously funny, John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces makes its illustrated debut in a standout edition that includes a new preface by Bill Bailey.


I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one

Arguably the funniest winner of the Pulitzer Prize, A Confederacy of Dunces is one of the 20th century’s great cult novels, with a following to match. Rollicking, sweaty, over-allusive and repulsively witty, it sits alongside Swift and Twain as a comic masterpiece. Unpublished during Toole’s lifetime, this astonishing literary accomplishment would have remained in manuscript if not for the persistence of the author’s mother following his untimely death. Now this publishing phenomenon is presented as an illustrated edition for the first time, the riotous narrative accompanied by a dazzling fanfare of illustrations from BAFTA-award-winning animator and illustrator Jonny Hannah. 

Production Details

Bound in printed textured paper

Set in Maxime Standard

352 pages

Frontispiece and 7 colour illustrations, and 7 black & white tailpieces

Printed endpapers

Printed slipcase

˝ x 6¼˝

One of fiction’s most memorable characters

Ignatius J. Reilly is an unlikely protagonist – grotesquely overweight, overbearing and prone to prolonged bouts of flatulence. He is also one of the most memorable and fascinating characters a reader is likely to encounter in modern fiction. Unintentionally hilarious and deliberately belligerent, John Kennedy Toole’s creation wages a one-man crusade against the many annoyances of modern life and the dunces he encounters on a daily basis.

‘My favourite book of all time … it stays with you long after you have read it – for all your life, in fact’

  1. Billy Connolly


The slothful and malodourous Ignatius lives in New Orleans with his doting mother and spends his days avoiding gainful employment. Donned head to toe in an outfit as eccentric as the man himself, Ignatius cuts a madcap figure whose sanity is routinely questioned by those he encounters – no mean feat in this city of characters. His series of unsuitable jobs includes an eventful stint as a hot-dog vendor, which only reaffirms his belief that he’s far too busy to work for a living. Illustrator Hannah pays tribute to Ignatius’s semi-successful attempt at gainful employment – one of Paradise Vendors’ hot dogs is emblazoned on the striking endpapers.

An author who never saw his work in print

Despite approaching many publishers, Toole failed to generate interest in his novel and he eventually set it aside and found work as a teacher. However, aged just 32, the troubled young writer took his own life and it became his mother’s mission to pursue her son’s dream on his behalf. As Bill Bailey writes in the preface to this edition: ‘His mother’s determination to get her son’s book into print was heroic.’ Bailey is one of many comedians and creatives who love Toole’s non-conformist character and the world he inhabits, citing the book as a favourite read. ‘Ignatius J. Reilly is one of fiction’s most brilliant creations, one which leaps right off the page and lives large in your imagination forever more.’

About John Kennedy Toole

John Kennedy Toole (1937–69) was born in New Orleans and graduated from Tulane University in 1958 before receiving a master’s degree from Columbia University the following year. He taught English at Hunter College, the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Dominican College. He was drafted into the US Army in 1961, and much of the first draft of A Confederacy of Dunces was written while he was stationed in Puerto Rico teaching English to new recruits. Depressed after failing to have his novel published, Toole committed suicide in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1969. Through the tenacity of his mother, and with the help of novelist Walker Percy, the book was published in 1980, and Toole was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for the novel in 1981.

About Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey is a multi-award-winning British comedian, songwriter, musician, actor, presenter and animal welfare campaigner. His extensive career ranges from international stand-up comedy tours to performing on television, film and radio. He played Manny in the BAFTA-award-winning Black Books, and was for many years a team captain on the popular BBC music panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He is a regular panellist on the hit BBC programme QI, along with writing and presenting numerous television wildlife documentaries. Bailey’s stand-up comedy has taken him to all parts of the globe and he is among the most well-travelled on the planet.

About Jonny Hannah

Jonny Hannah was born in Dunfermline and studied Illustration at Liverpool School of Art and Design, and the Royal College of Art. A freelance illustrator, his work has included Hot Jazz Special (2005), a book of poster-style art which received a V&A Illustration Award, and his Channel 4 animation, The Man with the Beautiful Eyes, which was awarded a BAFTA. His show ‘Main Street’ at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2015 realised a set of pop-up shops from his imaginary Darktown, a peninsula surrounded by the Sea of Possibilities, bringing to life much of his monograph Greetings from Darktown (2014). A keen printmaker, Hannah runs the Cakes & Ale Press, a cottage industry publishing books, prints, posters, tea-towels and badges.


You May Also Like

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    Michael Chabon

    Illustrated by Chris Samnee


    Experience The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with this special collector’s edition. Featuring illustrations by comic book artist Chris Samnee, Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is also introduced by Michael Moorcock.

  2. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

    The Expedition of Humphry Clinker

    Tobias Smollett

    Illustrated by Derrick Harris


    A new Folio edition of Tobias Smollett’s final masterpiece, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, a hilarious road-trip through Georgian Britain, dynamically illustrated by Derrick Harris and with an introduction by John Sutherland.

  3. Image of A Walk in the Woods book

    A Walk in the Woods

    Bill Bryson

    Illustrated by James Weston Lewis


    Full of sweat, tears and side-splitting humour, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is a page-turning travelogue and this Folio Society edition is the ultimate companion for fans of the author’s inimitable wit.