Cloud Atlas

  • By David Mitchell
  • Hodder and Stoughton, Great Britain, 2004
  • Signed by the Author
  • Book: 238mm x 160mm x 53mm
  • Box: 260mm x 185mm x 73mm
  • Bound in 2016
  • Collection of Bruce Howard, UK

Full leather binding bound in dark blue goatskin.
Embroidered outline of a world map on the cover with blind-tooled water.
Gold-tooled longitude and latitude lines cross and mark six points on the map where brass tubing of different sizes are inset through the boards.
The endpapers have been decorated using watercolour paints and salt crystals which are then painted over with acrylic paint.
The longitude and latitude lines continue on to them and they have additional quotes written along the lines.
The box is made of Rosewood with a frosted acrylic lid, patterned with wire in the same linear fashion as the binding.

The novel consists of six interconnected stories, however the main characters do not directly interact with one another but their lives are infinitely connected and affected by the actions of the others. The first five stories are broken into two parts - each being interrupted or halted at a pivotal moment. After the sixth story, which is completed in one central section, the other five stories are closed, in reverse chronological order, and each ends with the main character reading or observing the chronologically previous work in the chain. The main characters are also linked in spirit through the reoccurring image of a comet-shaped birthmark which are also depicted at crossing points on the cover.

The cover design is based on a map of the world, the points marked by the crossing of the longitude and latitude lines are placed where each of the six stories within the book are set. Each longitude line on the cover design has an additional design element running along it to tie in with the theme of the stories as follows (from top to bottom); a train track (the character travels by train between London and Hull), stylised musical notes (the character is a composer who writes "Cloud Atlas Sextet"), typewriter letters (the character is a 1970's journalist), troughs and peaks (the character travels across seas and over mountains), quote marks in a futuristic font (the story is based in the far future) and finally the embroidered words of the very last quote of the entire book to tie it all together, "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?".