New W. A. Dwiggins book! Athalinthia stories and pictures

Created by Bruce Kennett

The personal side of Dwiggins. Cool stories, published together for the first time. Tons of never-before-seen art, much in color.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Afterword complete, spine revisions
over 1 year ago – Tue, Sep 13, 2022 at 10:44:25 AM

Greetings Everyone,

The afterword is all written, tons of pictures added, and the entire book has been proofread a second time by the ace copy editor and proofreader Doris Troy. We hope to print later in the month.

Meanwhile, Gray has ordered the goatskin from England and is looking forward to diving into making the first batch of deluxes once we are off press. We'll have one batch of 25 to send out in December, another in February, and a third in April.

Back in the fall of 2021, when I was laying out the book in pages, and choosing illustrations and deciding where to put them, I knew exactly how the front and back covers were going to look, but I struggled with the treatment of the book’s title on the spines. WAD always liked to have the spine type read horizontally, so that a reader never had to do a head-tilt to read the title. This practice of his resulted in lots of hyphenations, such as the narrow spine label for a 1917 book which ended up on nine lines as SON-  NETS   AND  OTH-   ER   LYR-   ICS    HILL-   YER, with all but one word hyphenated!

I tried all manner of combinations to see what I could do with ATHALINTHIA. 

My various attempts to hyphenate the main title.

But everything looked too busy and noisy to me. Nothing felt right. In the end, I decided to keep the spirit of horizontality with the title set in nice, visible Caledonia, set one letter per line, which would create a simple design with NO hyphens.

However, when I had my dummies all built and nested them among other WAD books . . . 

My original dummies shelved among a collection of WAD spines.

 they felt too “other” in appearance. I decided to re-visit the spine design, and to feature instead his hand-lettered artwork from the cover of the 1948 edition of The War Against Waak

(left) WAD’s handlettered artwork (center) New title design (right) deluxe spine

This new design uses two hyphens, on either side of LIN, and everything seems in good equilibrium. WAD’s lettering is flanked above and below by rows of his Caravan Decorative Units. This now provides a central piece of art that fills the width of the spine, just as WAD was fond of doing with so many of his own spine designs.

The author names at top and bottom are still in Metro, as before. (For the deluxe, I am having Michael Babcock set the names on his Linotype machine, so that Gray can hot-stamp those directly from Lino slugs onto the goatskin spines.)

For the standard edition, the previous design had a lavender background and green type, using colors that I eyedroppered from WAD’s gouache artwork for the scene shown on the front and back covers. This lavender-green combo worked fine with the large individual Caledonia capital letters, but lacked contrast when I brought in the new spine artwork. I next tried varying combinations of colors for background and type, but many did not have sufficient contrast for easy readability, or they lacked energy. The most successful of all these color schemes has the green for spine background, and black type, to give lively color and proper contrast, so that’s what we’ll use (with the colorful battle scene on front and back, as before).

These new spines feel much more akin to those surrounding them

I am very pleased with these changes and hope you are, too. Now, nested among the other WAD spines, the two books feel much Dwiggier!

Last call . . .
over 1 year ago – Wed, Aug 31, 2022 at 06:42:14 AM

Hello Everyone,

First of all, many thanks for completing your surveys. It helps get the information exactly right for shipment.

Second, orders are about to be closed. If you had meant to order a T-shirt or another copy of the book, today is the day to do it. After today, T-shirts and Series II deluxe books can no longer be ordered. A few standard books will be available for purchase later on, but at a higher price.

Thanks again for your help in getting this project off the ground!


Backers list to be printed in book — Please read this note!
almost 2 years ago – Sat, Aug 20, 2022 at 03:55:03 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit and log in to read.

Image proofs • Surveys
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Aug 11, 2022 at 07:06:45 PM

Hello Everyone,

I'm very pleased to have proofs back from Penmor for all the illustrations in the front 220 pages of the book. Everything looks great. Still working on the afterword.

Important: BackerKit tells me that 88% of you have completed surveys. For the remaining 12% of you . . . please do complete your survey so we can tidy up that housekeeping stuff. If you cannot *find* your survey, or never got one, please send me a message and I'll have one sent to you.

In case you want to mention it to friends, standard Athalinthia books, deluxe (series II) books, and t-shirts are still available for the general public to order. They can just go to the Kickstarter campaign page and click the link there.



A small sampling of the color and b&w proofs for all illustrations in the seven Athalinthia stories. Just in from Penmor’s prepress department.

Titles for the seven stories
almost 2 years ago – Fri, Jul 29, 2022 at 11:50:51 PM

Now that the housekeeping and on-line programming details seem to be receding in the rear-view mirror, at long last I can turn my attention to writing about how Dwiggins imagined these stories and what he did to breathe life into them. And bring some of this to you in the form of updates.

Over the more than four decades that Dwiggins was working on his Athalinthia tales, the sequence of the stories varied, as did some of the names. (For example: Siriling > Sirriling > Sirraling >Syrillion.)

This list is probably from the late 1920s, given the spelling of Sirraling.

By the late 1940s he had settled on both the story order and the names, displaying those clearly on the cover of The War Against Waak (Püterschein-Hingham, 1948), so I have adopted that sequence for the 2022 edition.

My design calls for each of the seven stories to begin with a half-title page that has only the name of the story. Dwiggins drew/lettered line art for four of the stories; for a fifth, “Bronabejjia,” he made a combination of a line drawing and some typeset matter.

However, there was no art in the files for “Syrillion” and “Jade Carved Flamewise.” (In the Dwiggins Collection at Boston Public Library, each of the stories has its own folders that contain handwritten and typed manuscripts, plus tons of illustrations, relating to that individual story.)

I was disappointed not to have something directly from Dwiggins’s hand for each of the stories, but I refused to be deterred. Last winter, while I was working on the design, I decided to build my own titles for the two remaining stories, using original Dwiggins material to do so. For “Syrillion” I put together glyphs from the 41-point Plimpton Initials, which WAD made in 1936 for use at the Plimpton Press, where many Knopf novels were printed. For “Jade Carved Flamewise” I combined letters from a Dwiggins script alphabet that was included in Paul Hollister’s American Alphabets (Harper Brothers, 1930); given the particular combinations of letters in that word, the fit was not ideal, so I took a few liberties in retouching and combining the letters. (You can see these two titles at the bottom of the JPEG below.)

But then . . . Eureka! Yesterday, while working on the afterword text, I decided to go through everything I have in my Athalinthia files, and I came upon copy photographs of two title-page comps that Dwiggins made in the 1940s, on which he happened to have written both “Syrillion” and “Jade carved Flamewise” as titles. So now each of the stories can open with titles that Dwiggins actually made himself! These you’ll see in the upper portion of the JPEG.

Titles for stories, all made by Dwiggins (upper portion), with my now-discarded titles below

Stay tuned . . . more to come as I keep working on this.