Beverley, you'll recall, has been the subject of a number of previous posts on this blog, chiefly this one and this one. Le Barrow's starkly lit photos, tendency to use models and minor actors, and awesomely literal approach made the photographer a firm favourite with British book publishers like Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph and Panther in the '70s and '80s, who harnessed Beverley's singular talents on covers for Ross Thomas, Dick Francis and others.
Beverley's schtick was photographing models in studios against flat black or white backgrounds – a stylistic quirk that may have owed something to a possible parallel career as a snapper of topless Page 3 girls. Indeed, I'm starting to wonder whether Beverley le Barrow was in fact a pseudonym for famed Sun newspaper Page 3 photographer Beverley Goodway, who is actually a bloke, and not, as I assumed Le Barrow to be, a woman. "Le Barrow" being a pseudonym might also explain the discrepancy between the spellings of that name in various book cover credits: "Beverly" – no third "e" – "Lebarrow" – one word – in the credits for the Hamish Hamilton Ross Thomas covers, "Beverley Le Barrow" elsewhere.
(UPDATE: Further evidence for my theory has emerged since I wrote this post. Francis from the Stanley Morgan Website – Beverley Le Barrow photographed a good many Morgan covers – commented on this earlier post that he'd contacted an American photographer who assisted Le Barrow in the 1970s. That photographer confirmed Le Barrow was a pseudonym... and he also reckoned Beverley's real surname was indeed Goodway... Go read this post for a round-up on all things Le Barrow.)
Anyway, perhaps Le Barrow's crowning achievement were the covers for Triad/Panther's paperback range of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, issued (out of sequence, I believe, i.e. not in their original 1953 Casino Royale to 1966 Octopussy order) from 1977 to 1979. The concept for these was audaciously bald, even by Beverley's standards. Gaze upon their magnificence and you can almost see Le Barrow's mental processes at work; when she (he?) was handed the assignment to create covers for fifteen Bond books, naturally her (his?) inclination would be to round up a bunch of leggy models, dress them – or even underdress them – in the finest '70s clobber... and then... and then... Hmm. What to do to make the covers distinctive? Well, one of the Bond novels is called The Man with the Golden Gun... so... how about draping the leggy models over a great big model golden gun? Brilliant!
To realise this twisted vision, Beverley was assisted by a team of very well known creatives. Jewellery was provided by retailer Hooper Bolton; shoes – where they were worn – were by Terry de Havilland; and make-up was applied by, er, some bird called Bonny. Ahem. The giant gun, meanwhile, was designed and built by David Collins and Floris van den Broecke. Van den Broecke is a furniture designer of some note, but I'm not sure which of the many David Collinses that pop up when you Google his name is the right one. However, years ago, when I was doing an Art Foundation course at Ravensbourne, I attended a lecture by a visiting designer who created massive models of everyday objects to be photographed for advertising billboards. Because back then (1988, I think), the only way to photograph, say, a Polo mint, and blow it up to billboard size, was to create a huge man-sized model of said mint and photograph that instead. I've got a sneaking suspicion that that designer was David Collins. I could, of course, and as is often the case, be completely wrong. But a gigantic golden gun.... what are the odds?
Whatever the truth, the Bond covers photographed by Beverley le Barrow are among the most memorable ever to grace that series. So, gathered together here for the first time anywhere on the internet (at least, at this fairly large size), Existential Ennui proudly presents a complete cover gallery – with back covers where I have them – of the Ian Fleming (and Robert Markham/Kingsley Amis) James Bond novels published by Triad/Panther/Granada. Enjoy.