The Many Covers of Anna Karenina: A Brief Visual History


One hundred years ago next week the great Russian master of fiction, Leo Tolstoy, passed away. In his honor The Atlantic has dug up a profile of the writer from 1891. For our part, we decided to look at the many faces (i.e. covers) of Anna Karenina, a novel that, when asked to name the three best novels ever, William Faulkner listed as one, two, and three. Originally the story was published in serial installments in The Russian Messenger from 1873 to 1877. The first time it appeared as a full book was 1878, with numerous reprintings since then. Click through for a gallery of its covers through the years.

First Edition (1878)

This is the title page of the first edition of Anna Karenina in Russian.

Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. (1886)

This was the first English language printing of Anna Karenina, available in 1886. It was translated by Nathan Haskell Dole and it included ads in both the front and the back of the book.

Rittenhouse Classics (1920)

This version, featuring an early use of the Constance Garnett translation, is illustrated by Helen Mason Grose.

Oxford University/Humphrey Milford (1923)

This printing came in two pages of about 400 pages each (Volume 2 pictured above) and was translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

Pocket Books (1948)

This first pocket-sized printing has a cover image featuring Vivien Leigh, who played Karenina in a 1948 film adaptation of the book.

Modern Library (1950)

This 1950 printing was translated to English by Constance Garnett.

WW Norton & Co. (1970)

This early paperback added essays and sharp black and white cover to the Maude translation.

Penguin Books (1973)

This mass-market paperback packed an abridged version of Garnett’s translation. A steal at 60 cents!

The Modern Library (December 28, 1993)

This “deluxe” hardcover edition is the only one we found with a man (presumably Vronsky?) on the cover. The image is a drawing by an artist referred to only as Tobin.

Wordsworth Classics (1997)

The cover of the Wordsworth Classics paperback (originally published in 1995) is a detail from Berthe Morisot’s painting entitled At the Ball. It was translated by the Maudes with an introduction by E.B. Greenwood.

Oxford World’s Classics (1998)

This edition (published in June of 1998) was translated by Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude with an introduction by Gareth Jones. The cover is a detail from a 1890 painting called In the Warm Country by N.A. Yaroshenko.

Modern Library (2000)

Later Modern Library put out a paperback edition with a new cover. It’s a painting called Lady in White by Charles Bergamasco.

Viking Adult (2001)

Viking’s hardcover edition uses a photograph of a woman’s knees and is translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The paperback, which adds some color to the flowers, came out 2004 with an Oprah’s Book Club sticker on it.

Penguin Classics (2003)

Penguin used the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation, but opted for a detail from Mrs. Wilton Phipps by John Singer Sergeant on the cover.

Barnes & Noble Classics (2003)

The Barnes & Noble Classics edition was translated by Constance Gernett and features an introduction by Amy Mandelker. The cover is a portrait by Russian artist Ivan Kramskoi called Portrait of an Unknown Woman.