During the summer of 2017 (remember it? it rained, mostly) LJMU English ran a competition asking students to design a book cover for a text they were studying, and to submit their work of creative genius with an explanation of the inspiration behind their work.

We’re delighted to announce that the quality of the entries we received meant that we’ve had to designate not one, but two worthy winners: one from a 2017 graduate, and the other from a student who started with us this year (and heard about the competition at one of our Open Days). Both will receive their choice of book from the gorgeous Penguin Clothbound Classics series. HUGE congratulations to Gemma and Kathrin – you can admire their designs and read how they came about below.

Look out for more competitions soon – we do so like to show off the creativity and brilliance of our students!

Gemma Lutwyche, L4 English & Creative Writing

Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire concerns sensuality and sexism, and captures its audiences through a focus on subconscious desires. This is what I wanted to convey with my cover design. The moth as metaphor hints at Blanche’s flaw of obsession, and reminds audiences of the saying “like a moth to a flame”. The fragile and beautiful moth Blanche struggles with the societal values that constrain her doomed character. The moth is attracted to the very light bulb that will destroy it, and the red on the moth’s wings foreshadows the dangerous desire to which Blanche will lose her sanity. The light represents the troubled past that hangs over Blanche and controls her. Key quotes are scattered in my design’s space, overwhelming the white space representing her ruined innocence, and suggesting the irrational order of Blanche’s thoughts.

The judges said: We were blown away by this design, and the account that Gemma gave of it – with that play on the simile ‘like a moth to a flame’ – and with the striking use of lettering and quotations.

Kathrin Shawcross, graduated this summer from English, Media & Cultural Studies

My aim with this cover was to illustrate the dichotomy of women that was so prevalent in Victorian literature. Gilbert and Gubar’s deconstruction of the ‘angel’ and ‘monster’ women roles in fiction inspired me to draw the heroine alongside her uncanny counterpart.

This figure is an embodiment of femininity that is intended to be both eerie and attractive. This is because, thematically,

I see Jane Eyre as someone who is haunted, by the past and by societies expectations of her.

That is why I decided to draw her standing in the shadow of the bride that she is expected to become/replace.

The judges said: Kathrin won a competition we ran last year, to represent a literary text visually, and here we can see another example of her skill. We loved her representation of the eerie and eternal feminine embodied in that ghostly bride, which shows Kathrin’s strong critical grasp on the critical debates around the novel.