The Book of Jonah

Illustrated by David Jones

Limited to 750 copies

A classic from the Fine Press tradition. Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies. Published in series with Genesis and The Song of Songs.


The Book of Jonah was published in 1926 in an extremely restricted edition of only 175 copies, making it one of the rarest illustrated books produced by the Golden Cockerel Press. It remains one of the most important, capturing the moment when Jones emerged from the shadow of his ‘master’, Eric Gill, to create his own unconventional and highly imaginative style.

‘He had the grace to love the wood and the feel of it’
  1. Hilary Pepler

The Old Testament prophet Jonah is a complex figure, who tries to escape God’s call to preach to the sinful people of Nineveh, then rages against Him for sparing them when they repent; who prays to God to rescue him from the belly of the whale, then begs to be allowed to die. Jones captured this conflict with characteristic intelligence, labouring for over six months to produce a densely-packed series of images that combine black-line and white-line engraving, the medieval and the modern, the static and the dynamic, moments of calm with scenes of high drama. His Nineveh is a city of towering skyscrapers occupied by Expressionist inhabitants, his Jonah a Christ-like figure surrounded by allusions to the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Subtle visual relationships even pair many of the illustrations, creating a distinctive combination of linear progress and unifying symmetry.


Because of Jones’s unusually shallow cutting of the wooden blocks and ambitious integration of text and image, The Book of Jonah was particularly difficult to print. But the result is an outstanding contribution to a medium that Jones worked in for just five years.

Production Details

20 pages, set in Caslon type, with 14 wood-engravings by David Jones. Bound in oatmeal coloured cloth blocked in gold on the spine. Taupe paper dust wrapper, printed in black ink, and featuring an illustration by the artist in facsimile of the original. Reproduced from the first edition, this book has been printed on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper.


Accompanying the facsimile is an essay by Sebastian Carter, formerly of the Rampant Lions Press, now editor of Parenthesis, the Journal of the Fine Press Book Association. This specially commissioned piece gives essential background to the original publication and is printed in Caslon on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper.


The solander presentation box is covered in smooth turquoise Surbalin paper and lined with Geltex Marbrava paper in green. The front and spine are blocked in gold foil and the front board is inset with a title label printed in black with an illustration by David Jones on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper.

About David Jones

David Jones (1895–1974) was the pre-eminent painter-poet of the twentieth century. After studying at Camberwell Art School, Jones enlisted as a private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers at the outbreak of the First World War, and fought on the Western Front at the Somme, Ypres and Passchendaele. In 1921, he converted to Roman Catholicism and joined Eric Gill’s Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic at Ditchling, where he learned the art of wood engraving. Alongside his artistic output Jones also created two poetic masterpieces: In Parenthesis, and The Anathemata, hailed by W. H. Auden as ‘one of the most important poems of our time’.


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