Books and Authors on Postage Stamps

Collection of James M. Hutchisson

This is an exhibit of part of one of my philatelic collections, this one having been ongoing since about the spring of 2004. Among countries Great Britain by far and away leads the rest in terms of special stamp issues that feature literary topics -- not surprising, given its rich and long cultural heritage. Dickens, Shakespeare, and Jules Verne are among the most popular subjects on this theme

Charlotte Bronte's famous novel Jane Eyre was the subject of six stamps issued in Great Britain in February 2005.

Scenes from the novel appear on the stamps. Clockwise, from upper left: The master of Thornfield, Mr. Rochester; Jane receiving a telepathic plea from Rochester; Jane arriving at the George Inn; Adele Rochester's recitation for Jane; Jane's cruel treatment at Lowton School; Rev. Brocklehurst, the sadistic head of school. The stamps were produced to commemorate World Book Day in the United Kingdom and the 150th anniversary of the death of Charlotte Bronte. Bronte had earlier been featured (1980) in the four issue set, "Victorian Women Novelists" (below). Jane Austen (1975) is the only other female writer to be the sole feature of a set of stamps having to do with British literature.

The designs are from lithographs produced between 2002 and 2004 by Paula Rego, whose work was on exhibition at the Tate Gallery in Britain in late 2004 and early 2005. Rego was born in Lisbon and attended the Slade School in London in 1952. She established her reputation with paintings and etchings that vividly express female anxiety and pain. Full of allegory and mystery, her powerful images are often pervaded by a tense underlying eroticism. In the 1980s she began to develop the bizarre figurative work that has since made her famous. She tended to drawn on nursery rhymes and fairy tales in order to enact adult fantasies and anxieties Like Angela Carter's revamped fairy stories Rego questions our notions of childhood innocence. Many women see themselves and their predicaments in Rego's art. Her Jane Eyre work resonates with the nightmarish side of this in many ways Gothic novel, as well as its romantic feelings.


The designs for this 1980 series, by Barbara Brown, are much more conventional than Rego's somewhat tormented images above. The set was known variously as Famous People (the topic chosen by the Central European Philatelic Committee for its yearly issue -- the CEPT symbol seen on the left of each stamp); Women Writers; and Victorian Lady Novelists.

12p: Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
131/2p: George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss
15p: Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
171/2p: Mrs. Gaskell's North and South


The novel form came to prominence in England during the Victorian era and many major writers were women, like the Brontes and Eliot, who, because of the social code that thought it absurd that womens should try to cultivate their intellects beyond the range of drawing-room subjects, had to mask their identities behind male pseudonyms. The themes of Victorian novelists, both male and female, tended to center on the individual's relationship to society. Common issues they explored were morals, manners, and money. The struggle for the individual to define himself or herself in relation to their community also manifested itself in the pervasive theme of marriage.

The four British stamps below were part of the 1971 series, "Literary Anniversaries." The stamps were selected for the 150th anniversary of the death of John Keats, the bi-centenary of the death of Thomas Gray, and the bi-centenary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott. The designs are by Rosalind Dease, who based the line drawings on busts and medallions of the authors. An alternate set for the series, rejected by Royal Mail, depicted each of the authors in association with the locale where they had lived: Abbotsford (Scott); Stoke Poges (Gray); and Hampstead (Keats). These rejected designs showed places, in the words of their designer Ronald Maddox, "closely associated with their memory in the minds of the public generally, both in this country and abroad."

John Keats

Thomas Gray

Sir Walter Scott


The four stamps at left were released by Royal Mail in Great Britain on 25 January 1996 to mark the bicentenary of the death of Scottish poet Robert Burns. The designs feature passages from four of Burns's best known works, a poem and three songs. The 19p stamp bears the opening line of "To a Mouse," one of Burns's best known poems and reproduces the artless mixture of fonts used by the printer John Wilson for the Kilmarknock Edition of July 1786. The subject of the 60p stamp, "Auld Lang Syne" is probably the most-sung song in the world (and has aptly been described as the song nobody knows, since lines are always garbled or forgotten). The illustration on the stamp, showing a kilted highlander and a peasant girl dancing, is taken from a famous painting by David Allan entitled "A Highland Dance," in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. The year 1996 also marks the bicentenary of the death of Allan, who in his lifetime was hailed as the Scottish Hogarth. Allan and Burns never met, although Allan (1744-96) was commissioned to do etchings for Burns's songs in The Select Collection. Allan also painted scenes to illustrate "Tam o Shanter" and "The Cotter's Saturday night," the latter done as a gift for Burns to present to a friend.



On 13 January 1975 Britain issued a 6p stamped aerogramme, designed by Fraser Haston, to publicize the Burns Heritage Trail. The portrait on the left side of the aerogramme is a mirror image of the 1787 Alexander Nasmyth bust portrait (in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery), which was used in the Burns stamps of 1966 (see below). Tam o Shanter pursued by Nannie graced the central panel, and a field mouse was featured on the back. A novel feature of the aerogramme was its use of appropriate Burns quotations to illustrate the instructions for use. For example, "To slit open here" was accompanied by "An' cut you up wi' ready sleight."


Left, the two stamps designed by Gordon Huntly to commemorate the xx of Burns in 1966. On the 4 p stamp, the Scottish flag is the backdrop and the chalk portrait of Burns by Archibald Skirving, on blue ground with ultra-thin diagonal lines is in the foreground. The Dorothy Wilding portrait of Elizabeth (used on definitives through 196x) appears in the right panel. The 1s3d stamp shows the Nasmyth bust in reverse, against a background of plough, thistle, rose, stook of barley, quill pen and scroll. Tucked away in the corner is the gable end of Burns's farmhouse in Mossgiel.
Right, unadopted designs by Stewart Black (the check pattern of Burns textiles that bleeds off the tops and sides) and by A. B. Imrie, whose idea was better executed: it shows the poet's portrait with the Brig o Doon and Alloway countryside in the background. One justifiably rejected design apparently had portraits of Burns and the Queen side by side with the quotation "O my luve's like a red, red rose" in the middle. Below, special handstamps for the 1996 Burns issues.


Set in an invented pre-historic era in a place called Middle-earth, J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy is considered the touchstone for the modern epic fantasy. Royal Mail issued the 2004 stamps below to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers in 1954. The detail in this block of ten 1st class stamps is amazing. All feature original illustrations from the novels, done by Tolkien himself, except for the map, which was drawn by his son, Christopher. Clockwise, from upper left: map of Middle Earth; The Forest of Lothlorien (in spring); dust jacket of The Fellowship of the Ring; Rivendell; The hall at Bag-End (residence of Bilbo Baggins); Fangorn Forest; Minas Tirith; Barad-Dur; Doors of Durian; and Orthanc.


Great Britain issued four stamps on 6 September 1988 to commemorate the centenary of the death of Edward Lear, the writer of nonsense verse. The stamps all feature drawings by Lear and are inscribed EDWARD LEAR 1812-1888 The 19p stamp features his illustration for "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat," his most famous poem; the 27 p value shows a self-portraif of lear as a bird (1864) and a facsimile of his signature, "Yours affectionately, Edward Lear" The 35p value reproduces Lear's drawing for the limerick beginning "There was a young lady whose bonnet, Came untied when the birds sate upon it..." and the 32p stamp reproduces a lear drawing of a cat, based on his own pet, Foss. The drawing is from an alphabet work and is so described -- "C was a lovely Pussy Cat; its eyes were large & pale; And on its back it had some stripes and several on his tail."

Right, the Lear stamps were also issued in miniature sheet format. The sheet has a surround resembling the marbled endpapers of a Victorian book and bears the logo of the "Stamp World London" exhibition in 1990. At bottom is "A NONSENSE SONG, PEN SKETCH, ALPHABET CHARACTER AND RHYME" and the poet's signature in the right corner


The year 1979 was designated by the United Nations as The Year of The Child, thus the issue of these four stamps in the United Kingdom, at left, illustrating characters from well known childrens' books: 9p: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter; 101/2p: The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame; 11p: Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne; and 13p: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll.

Below, stamps featuring characters from five childrens' books by the British writer Enid Blyton (1997). The series titles featured are: Noddy; The Famous Five; Secret Seven; Faraway Tree; and Malory Towers. Although not well known in the United States, Blyton's books have been translated into no fewer than 27 languages and some 8 million of her titles are sold each year. "Noddy," a sweet-natured boy in a blue hat with big ears and a yellow hat, was perhaps her most famous creation.

Special handstamps used
to commemorate the Enid
Blyton issue.

"The Magical World of Children's Literature" was the subject of another stamp issue devoted to childrens' books, this one in 1998. They commemorate five hugely popular volumes and mark the centenaries of the death of Lewis Carroll and the birth of C. S. Lewis. Fantasy literature is a focus of the designs: The 20p stamp depicts Bilbo Baggins and Smaug the dragon from Tolkien's The Hobbit. The 26p value depicts Mr. Tumnus (a fawn), Lucy, and Aslan the lion from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia books. The four Prosser children, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and Robert, from E. Nesbit's The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) feature on the 37p denomination. The 43p stamp shows Pod and Arrietty, tiny folk from The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, published in 1952 and recently a popular film. And Lewis Carroll's ever-popular Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1871) is the subject of the 63p value, which features Alice and the Red Queen.

Below, a selection of stamps from Ireland. The subject of the plate block is Nobel laureates in literature: Clockwise, from upper left: William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw; Seamus Heaney; and Samuel Beckett.

At left, below:: Irish novelist and short story writer Frank O'Connor



Above, two stamps commemorating James Joyce and the novel, Ulysses, that in some reckonings is regarded as the most masterful work ever produced. At left is a famous cartoon of Joyce by Max Beerbom; at right, a young Joyce in Italy.


A popular and prolific writer, Hall Caine was probably best known in his lifetime for his fiction. At a time when religious authority had waned, he set for himself the task of maintaining society's moral standards through his writings and immodestly referred to himself as " the Shakes-speare of the novel." Most popular among his twentieth-century novels is The Woman of Knockaloe: A Parable (1923). Other publications include the three-volume novel Shadow of a Crime (1885) and novels such as A Son of Hagar (1887) and The Eternal City (1902), as well as several plays, a number of short stories, and two silent movie screenplays.



Five 25p stamps were issued in 1995 to commemorate the opening of the replica Globe Theatre on London's South Bank. At left is the one showing the 1599 (first) Globe Theatre, with Shakespeare himself in the lower left corner. Shown in front of the building are (from left to right) characters form his plays: Lady MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Richard III, Flastaff, and Bottom the Weaver, from A Midsummer Night's Dream. All the designs are by the late C. Walter Hodges, a noted historical illustrator and advocate of "educated folklore." Hodges also wrote several well regarded academic volumes on the Elizabethan theater world, among them Shakespeare and the Players (1948) and The Globe restored (1953).

The complete strip features the main London theatres of Elizabethan times: The Swan (1595), The Rose (1592), the original Globe (1599), The Hope (1613), and the second Globe (1614). The highly detailed designs form a composite picture of the London riverside, with the theatres linked by a serpentine path, Maid Lane. Spectators, entertainers, and players populate the stamps. On the first we see hucksters and hawkers ("Dr. Dee"). Customers' horses are looked after in front. Christopher Marlowe, one of Shakespeare's competitors, is depicted on the stamp featuring The Rose. The bear on the Hope stamp reminds us that this theatre was built as a convertible theatre / bear-baiting ring: two quite different forms of entertainment. The flag shows on the final stamp is based on the tradition that the signboard at the Globe had a figure of Hercules supporting the Globe on his shoulders.

Stamps featuring Shakespeare and his characters were issued in Great Britain in 1964 to mark the Shakespeare Festival, which commemorated the 499th anniversary of the bard's birth. The 3d, 6d, 1s3d and 1s6d stamps were designed by David Gentleman. The recess-printed 2s6d stamp was the work of Robin and Christopher Ironside. Below, the US 1964 Shakespeare commemorative (5c).

Twelve countries in the British Commonwealth commemorated the event with the issue of identical sets of stamps on first day of issue covers. Below, the Antigua 1964 issue.



Four of an eight-stamp set issued in Liberia in 1987 depicting Shakespeare and scenes and characters from his plays: Henry IV; King Lear; The Merry Wives of Windsor




Thomas Hardy was the preeminent novelist of the late Victorian - early Edwardian period in Great Britain. Born the son of a stonemason in the parish of Stinsford, near Dorchester, on 2 June 1840, he went on to make that corner of southwest England famous in his novels as "Wessex" -- a fictional universe populated by characters who reappear from novel to novel (Tess of the d'Urbervilles; The Mayor of Casterbridge; The Return of the Native, and many others) and based closely on the rustic peoples and rural topography of Dorset. Each year thousands of tourists visit the hardy birthplace at Higher Bockhampton and the Hardy Memorial Room at the Dorset County Museum. In the 1890s Hardy turned his attention to poetry and by the time of his death in 1928 was recognized as one of Britian's major poetic voices. This 28 p stamp, issued on 10 July 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the writer's birth, features a portrait of Hardy in middle age with Clyffe Clump, Dorset in the foreground, a backdrop used in many novels and referred in several poems, as "Clyffe Clump's far-off crest," in the poem "The Paphian Ball." Hardy's image seems to hover in the background of the scene, looking over the landscape that through his writing he made all his own.

Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective-hero, Sherlock Holmes, has been depicted on numerous stamps around the globe. The five 24p strip featured below was issued in Great Britain in 1993 to commeorate the centenary of the publication of The Final Problem -- the last Holmes story, in which the detective is killed in a fight with his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. The stamps feature scenes from five Holmes tales. The illustrations were done by Andrew Davidson, who has designed several books for Penguin and Faber and Faber. One of these, Ted Hughes's collection, The Iron Man, won two prestigious awards in 1987. Davidson has also done other illustration work for Royal Mail stamps.  


The main characters of the stories are featured on all five of the stamps. The person who created them, Doyle, was a Portsmouth physician with no formal experience writing books but based Holmes on Dr. Joseph Bell, who had been his professor of medicine at Edinburgh University, a teacher famed for his powers of deductive reasoning in piecing together the histories of his patients.Davidson, the designer, read all of Doyle's stories afresh before he began work. He commented: "Many people undoubtedly have their own favorite actor for each part, but it was important to go back to the original description in the novels.As the stamps are about a detective, one with a sometimes humorous, eccentric character, a few clues as to the character in the stories are hidden in each stamp. The idea of people using Holmes's favorite prop, the magnifiying glass, to find the clues in the stamp, was too good to miss."

Doyles's creation is to be found on a surprising number of stamps from countries all around the world. Below is a sampling:


At left is the cover of one of the 1987-88 £1 booklets, with five 18p and one 13p stamps: "Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet First in a series from an idea by Mark Collicott illustrated by Andrew Davidson." Below: 1990 Bhutan minisheet issue featuring the Northumberland Hotel, from Hound of the Baskervilles. Look for the Holmes silhouette on the facade of the building.

After Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the other fictional detective to appear the most frequently on postage stamps must be Maigret, the dour Belgian detective invented by the highly prolific French author Georges Simenon.Simenon was by many standards the most successful author of the 20th century, and the character he created, Inspector Jules Maigret, made him famous.

The three images of Simenon on the stamps at right are based on this portrait by the Belgian artist Désiré Roegiest.

The background of the French issue, engraved by André Otto, is the Quai des Orfèvres, location of Maigret's office in Paris. For the Belgian stamp, engraved by Paul Huybrechts, Liège, Simenon's birthplace. And on the Swiss stamp, engraved by Pierre Schopfer, the Château d'Echandens, near Lausanne, where Simenon lived for many years.

A more visually interesting issue is the 2003 Belgian mini-sheet below, which appeared on the 100th anniversary of Simenon's birth. At right is the photograph of the Quai des Orfèvres by Jean-Pierre Ducatez which appears in the background of the stamp and souvenir sheet.


"For these two posters which we obviously had to use in their original versions, we reworked them at the color level, not the design level," explained Thierry Martin, the designer."We wanted a cinematic production, with the typical lighting of the movies. To do that, we made the left side white, shading little by little towards black, moving to the right of the stamp," he added.

After detective fiction, science fiction figures most prominently as a genre depicted on postage stamps. Like the mystery novel, the definition of sci-fi novel is often stretched, depending on a particular country's measure of what constitutes great art. In the San Marino sheet below, commemorating one hundred years of science fiction in film, several works that are arguably greater than mere genre fiction, like Orwell's 1984, are included.


Left, detail from the San Marino sheet: the stamp depicting a rather grim looking Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne's novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Below, a mini-sheet issued by Hungary in xxxx commemorating Verne, one of the most prolific and popular writers in any genre of all time.



In 1993 Great Britain marked the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens's holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, with a set of 5 first-class stamps depicting characters from the tale: Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim; Mr. and Mr. Fezziwig; Scrooge; The Prize Turkey; and Mr. Scrooge's nephew. A Christmas Carol marked a period of great change in the way Christmas was celebrated. Christmas Day became the focus for the merry-making, exchanging of presents and consuming of turkeys, plum puddings and rich cakes which had before been spread over twelve days. The Christmas tree, from Germany became popular. Christmas at this point also became forever identified with children -- to Dickens we may well owe the images of skaters on frozen ponds and stage coaches stuck in snowdrifts that would later appear on so many Christmas cards. Of course, these idealized images of a "white Christmas" with all the trimmings were an elaborate confection of fantasy for Dickens, for his own memories were of a hard winter, very little money, and no happy faces gathered around seething bowls of punch and and rapturously agaze at presents.

Below, Royal Mail's first day of issue cover for the 1993 stamps. The handstamp postmark depicts a Christmas pudding.


Below, the 1997 British stamp series, "Tales of Terror" featuring several well known British novelists.


The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one of the legions of Sherlock Holmes tales. The famous fictional detective and his creator have appeared on the stamps of many countries, including another UK issue (above), in 1993

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (as it was originally titled) first appeared in 1886 and sold 40,000 copies in less than six months. The classic story of the doppelganger (German for "double-goer," or alter-ego), the story was based on the real life case of Deacon Brodie of Edinburgh, which Robert Louis Stevenson had read about in the papers.

Bram (Abraham) Stoker is variously said to have been inspired to write the Dracula tale while vacationing in Yorkshire, seeing the coffins in the vaults blow a church in his native Dublin, and roaming the mountains in west Ireland, which resemble the Transylvania mountains in the novel.

  Mary Shelley (nee Godwin) first told the creation story of Frankenstein to her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron at a holiday villa overlooking Lake Geneva in 1816



Certainly one of the most bizarre stamp sheets / designs in history, this recent issue from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan is entitled "20th Century Dreams" and depicts a fantasy mise-en-scene of Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro, Ernest Hemingway, Che Guevara, and Ava Gardner! Papa is shown wearing a loud Key West-ish shirt with an unsightly protruding stomach and looking rather learingly in the direction of Ava Gardner's breasts.
















Below, two covers from France featuring nineteenth century writers: the bleak naturalist Emile Zola, whose realistic credo influenced many notable American writers like Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser; and his aesthetic opposite, Alexandre Dumas, famous of the three musketeers legend, whose adventure stories are still popular works today.



At left, Monaco pair commemorating the centenary of Dumas's death. The rotund author is dressed, it appears, in period garb!

Below, another enduringly popular writer of escapist literature, Victor Hugo, pictured on a post office "maxicard" version of a stamp issued by Vietnam. Hugo is in the foreground; a scene from Les Miserables is in the background. Below that, a Monaco pair similar to the Dumas issue.




This 1957 French first day of issue cover honors Miguel de Cevantes on the 400th anniversary of his birth. Don Quixote, his masterwork, is considered by many to be the first "modern" novel. All the familiar "quixotic" iconography is featured in the illustration -- the windmill, the steed, the joursting pole, and the faithful companion, Sancho Panza. The blues and yellows are striking and are reminiscent of many 1950s-era prints, advertising, graphics, and cartoons.

Left -- maxicard and set of stamps about Jean de la Fontaine, French poet whose fables rank among the masterpieces of world literature. In his own time La Fontaine was considered a vagabond, dreamer, and lover of pleasure. A rustic character, he never was a real courtier and drifted happily from one patron to another. Because of the universal nature of his fables, La Fontaine's poems about industrious ants, brave lions, and carefree grasshoppers are still widely read.

Below, Artist's proofs for issue of three stamps about The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author, journalist and pilot wrote The Little Prince in 1943, one year before his death. The book appears to be a simple children's tale, but is actually profound and deeply moving, written in riddles and laced with philosophy and poetic metaphor.



Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)is the subject of this set of four stamps from Ireland. Wilde was an Irish poet and dramatist whose reputation rests on his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Among Wilde's other best-known works are his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and his fairy tales, especially "The Happy Prince."

Although married and the father of two children, Wilde's personal life was the subject of much rumor and innuendo in his life. His years of triumph ended dramatically, when his intimate association with Alfred Douglas led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (then illegal in Britain). He was sentenced to two years hard labor for the crime of sodomy.


1957 cover from France issued as part of a world authors set honoring Goethe and depicting a scene from The Sorrows of Young Werther. German poet, novelist, playwright, courtier, and natural philosopher, one of the greatest figures in Western literature. In literature Goethe gained early fame with The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), but his most famous work is the poetic drama in two parts, FAUST. Like the famous character of this poem, Goethe was interested in alchemy. He also made important discoveries in connection with plant and animal life, and evolved a non-Newtonian and unorthodox theory of the character of light and color, which has influenced such abstract painters as Kandinsky and Mondrian.


Below, 1975 series of stamps honoring Jane Austen on the bicentenary of the author's birth, issued by Great Britain. Designs, from left: Mr. Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice; Catherine Morland, from Northanger Abbey; Emma and Mr. Woodhouse, from Emma; Mary and Henry Crawford, from Mansfield Park.

Barbara Brown, who did the 1980 Victorian Novelists series for Britain, later said that she decided to draw the subjects for the Austen stamps in "stamp-size, partly because it seemed to me the most natural size to work at" and added the interesting comment that Austen had once described her own work as that of a miniaturist. Brown also gave a retrospective description of her designs in the British Philatelic Bulletin for October 1975 :

"From the four novels which seemed to me the most widely read ... I selected six characters whom I thought I could most successfully define and comment on within a limited area. I selected no characters with whom I could not sympathize ... Emma Woodhouse, the reigning queen of her busy humdrum court, typifies a quality of life that the restless stylish Crawfords would probably reject. These designs showing paired, as opposed to single figures, seemed to me particularly important because I wished them to suggest the strongly conversational style of the novels. As for Mr Woodhouse, I selected him in preference to any other character who would equally well have partnered Emma, partly because it seemed to me essential to include one of Jane Austen's brilliant characterizations of those in their middle or later years, and partly because Mr Woodhouse seems to me an unjustly despised gentleman. The dissimilarity between the sedentary parent and the scheming daughter provides another contrast with the intimate, accomplice-like relationship between Henry Crawford and his sister Mary ... Mr Darcy, aloof and distant, had to stand alone epitomizing the title of the novel whose hero he is clearly destined to be; while Catherine Morland, very human and silly, is at least for the time content to wander alone through an illusive world of Gothic fantasy."

Twentieth-Century Women | 1996 | Great Britain

Series paying tribute to the accomplishments of women: Dorothy Hodgkin (chemistry); Margot Fonteyn (ballet); Eliszabeth Frink (sculptor); Daphne du Maurier (novel-writing); Marsa Hartman (sports administration)

Four stamps were issued in Great Britain in 1992 to mark the centenary of the death of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, England's poet laureate during the Victorian era and among the most popular poets of all time. Tennyson was born in 1809 in Lincolnshire where his father was a parish priest. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he was a member, with his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam, of the Apostles debating society. Hallam's sudden death in 1833 left Tennyson grieft-stricken and inspired him to write one of the greatest elegies in western literature, "In Memoriam, A. H. H.," which when published in 1850 sold more than 60,000 copies. Tennyson is probably best remembered, however, for his cycle of poems based on the Arthurian legends, and collected in The Idylls of the King.

Each stamp features a picture of Tennyson in the foreground and a painting illustrating one of his poems in the background. They are as follows: Tennyson c. 1888 with illustration of Vivien from "Merlin and Vivian" ("The Beguiling of Merlin", by Sir Edward Burne-Jones); Tennyson in middle age with "The Miller's Daughter" ("April Love," by Arthur Hughes); Tennyson in 1864 with illustration of "The Lady of Shalott" ("The Lady of Shalott," by John William Waterhouse); and a portrait of Tennyson as a young man with illustration of his poem "Marianna," by Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

Below, four stamps featuring Peter Pan, a favorite of children's literature, from the book by Sir James M. Barrie. The stamps mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London; Barrie was one of the hospital's governors and bequeathed to it the royalties from the book. The designs are: the Darling children against the clockface of Big Ben; the crocodile; Peter Pan about to fly; Captain Hook.

Below, se-tenant strip of five stamps from the U.S.S.R. in 1989 depicting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking novels featuring Natty Bumppo and the native American Chingachcook, the best known of which is The Last of the Mohicans.

Science fiction is pictured on many different stamps from all around the globe. The four stamp set below is a tribute to H. G. Wells, a British novelist, historian, reformer, and enthusiastic Fabian socialist. His prodigious literary output -- more than 150 books and articles -- is amazing, but his utopian and dystopian fantasies are probably better known than his social comedies like The History of Mr. Polly (1910) and Tono-Bungay. The designs below are by Siobhan Keaney and feature, from left: The Time Machine (1895); The First Men in the Moon (1091); The War of the Worlds (1898); and The Shape of Things to Come (1933).