Opening our first edition printing of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, one finds a frontispiece illustration, rendered in careful, black and white lines. In the picture, a young, barefoot boy holds a small baby deer in his arms. Behind him are rustic cabins and the backdrop of a pine forest. Created by Edward Shenton, this and the several other illustrations throughout the book capture rural life in Central Florida.
Starting in 1929, Edward Shenton was the "in-house" illustrator for Scribner's Magazine, where he drew covers and interior illustrations for almost every article. Shenton also illustrated 152 books and their jackets for books published by Scribner’s. He worked with famed editor Maxwell Perkins to illustrate works by Thomas Wolf, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other literary luminaries. Notable among the many books are his dust jacket designs for Tender is the Night and The Green Hills of Africa.
The Yearling was one of Shenton’s last illustration jobs for Scribner’s. In 1938, the quality of Shenton's drawings was at its peak and The Yearling was the book for which he is best known. Showcasing an expressive line style, he plays with the contrast of light and dark so well in these illustrations, creating movement and drama with his varied linework. A Pulitzer Prize winner, the book was an enormous success, going through numerous printings, a book club edition, and later a movie. Eighty five years later it is still in print.