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Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina

Vizetelly & Co


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First UK edition of Tolstoy's masterpiece, in a spectacular artist's binding.

  • Leo Tolstoy (Russian).
  • Binding by Derek Hood (English).
  • London: Vizetelly & Co, 1887.
  • 769, [3] pages, followed by 32-page publisher's catalogue.
  • Bound in dark blue goatskin with colored leather inlays, decorated with white gold dots in concentric circles, deep blue-gray endpapers stamped in white gold, all edges gilt.
  • Housed in a grey felt-lined black cloth chemise with peacock blue leather spine label and matching slipcase.

"I read the book thoroughly and then forget about it. What I can't forget is then used as the catalyst for the design." — Derek Hood

The geometric shapes of Hood's 2017 binding represent the flashes of Moscow and St. Petersburg visible from a moving train, while the receding dotted rings suggest bright lights seen through a mist. The design shares several elements with Hood's interpretation of Cendrars & Delaunay's La Prose du Trassibérien, which likewise evokes a sense of movement inspired by a Russian train journey, but is bright and light where his Anna Karenina is dark-bordered and inescapable. The edition selected for transformation was the anonymously translated version published 140 years earlier as no. XX of Vizetelly's One-Volume Novels, a series responsible for first introducing British readers to Tolstoy, Flaubert, and Zola. Publishing the last of those three brought obscenity prosecution, imprisonment, and bankruptcy to Henry Vizetelly.

Trained in bookbinding at Napier University in Edinburgh and St. Andrews University, Hood was also an accomplished drummer, touring and recording with bands like All About Eve and The Auteurs throughout the 1990s before returning to his studio. His work was frequently commissioned by the organizers of the Booker Prize for special presentation copies, and his books have been exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Grolier Club. A unique metamorphic binding, paired with a major edition of this classic novel. Blume, "The Reader-Brand: Tolstoy in England at the Turn of the Century," Doyle, "Derek Hood Obituary," The Guardian; Minnesota Center for Book Arts, "Drop Dead Gorgeous: Fine Bindings of La Prose du Transsibérien Re-creation."

Condition Report

Star iconVery Good
Like New

Minor wear to slipcase.


Height: 7.25 inches / 18.41 cm
Width: 4.75 inches / 12.06 cm


First Edition




Fine bindings, Novels

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