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When I used to visit my grandmother as a child, I would often browse through her collection of books. She belonged for many years to the Book of the Month Club and had accumulated a treasure trove of fully illustrated classics such as Don Quixote, Anna Karenina, Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland, and Steinbeck’s The Red Pony, among several others. I was especially drawn, though, to her volume of Wuthering Heights with its riveting cover of Heathcliff (below), tortured by his passionate love for his soul mate Catherine.
My grandmother died years ago and I inherited the book which was published in 1943 during World War II.
However, for some reason, I never bothered to learn more about Firtz Eichenberg (1901-1990), the portrayer of Heathcliff and the other characters of Wuthering Heights, until just recently. He was not only a respected artist-illustrator, recognized for his powerful interpretations of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Poe, but also a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and a strong opponent of Hitler.
In addition, I discovered a memory of the war inside the front of the book that I had previously overlooked: a promotion to contribute to the Community War Fund Campaign illustrated with Freedom of Worship, one of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms posters. Did my grandmother respond to this international appeal for help, in embattled countries thousands of miles from her home in northeast Pennsylvania? A conflict in which her son-in-law and the other young men of her small mountain town were already fighting by the early 1940s.
And what about your special book?
The above images are used solely for educational purposes.