Five Story Prompts from Book Covers

Submittable’s newsletter had a link to a set of super cool book covers in the public domain. I fell down this rabbit hole hard. Here are five great leaping off spots into a short story. Man, I love old books.


“There is Death in the Pot.”

poison book

A treatise on spotting adulterated and poisonous food. The section on tea leaves was particularly inspiring. I also loved the idea of counterfeit pepper.

On a Lark to the Planets (1904) is a fabulous title! Apparently, it’s a sequel to The Wonderful Electric Elephant. Two children, and a Prince & Princess, in space with a Book of Directions. I’m in.



Okay, the contents of this one are probably dull if you aren’t a citizen scientist, but that 1869 cover is just wow. It conjures up steampunk shenanigans. Maybe a discovery that gets Sir Henry Roscoe (the author) in trouble.



This Blue Lodge Mason manual, cover and frontispiece alone, are full of weird, nonsensical language and imagery. The description here reminds of The High Priestess tarot card. (The link above has the whole thing.)


cover lodge


Lady Eureka; or, the The Mystery: a Prophecy of the Future

lady eureka

Okay, this one I stumbled over on the Gutenberg site while searching for Lockhart-Gordon (unfound), but whoa! The pirate character names in this book are hilarious!

Boggle, Scrumpydike, Hearty, and Climberkin!

I have no idea what this book is about, but it’s one in a three part series which apparently tells the future, so I might have to go skimming to find out based on those names alone!

Hope your February is allowing you time to stare into space and create!

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