Thursday 29 March 2012

Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s: A Permanent Page

As regular readers (usual caveats vis-a-vis "regular" – and indeed "readers" – apply) of Existential Ennui will know, I'm forever banging on about dustjacket design, in particular the jackets which wrapped around British books in the 1950s and '60s, especially – and unsurprisingly, given the loose remit of this blog – those gracing the thrillers and genre works of the era. To my mind, this period was something of a golden age for wrapper artwork, and you can find lots of examples of dustjackets from that mid-20th century era littering Existential Ennui.

And therein lies the problem: those covers are scattered about this blog like so much flotsam (or jetsam), and not readily accessible unless you're prepared to endlessly scroll through Existential Ennui – which, for various reasons (although chiefly to do with potential boredom), I wouldn't recommend. Yesterday, however, whilst tweeting links to past posts showing examples of great British dustjackets (an act of temporary insanity which was in turn inspired by this post on Val Biro), I had a brainwave: why not create a dedicated page for the best examples of British jacket design from the '50s and '60s, drawing on books from my collection?

Why not indeed. And so that's precisely what I've done. You can find the dedicated page here, or by clicking on the permanent "Pages of Particular Interest" link at the top of Existential Ennui's right-hand sidebar. Inside you'll find a cornucopia of covers, some you'll have seen before, others perhaps not – and a couple, one by Val Biro (the stunning jacket for Victor Canning's A Delivery of Furies which you can see above), the other by Peter Probyn (an elegant one for Francis Clifford's The Hunting-Ground), I'm presenting for the first time on Existential Ennui – arranged alphabetically by designer, with links to whatever nonsense I've written about that particular book or cover artist (if anything). It's a work in progress – I'll be adding to it as I find new examples – but it's off to a good start, I feel, and should hopefully prove a valuable resource as time goes by (not least to me). So go have a look and let me know what you think. And hey, you never know: I may even, at some stage, get round to doing a paperback cover page as well...


  1. Great idea! Considering the work you have done and are continuing to do, it makes sense to have something of an archive section that isn't just based in chronological order. I look forward to browsing through them over my morning tea.

    And a big hell yes! to a paperback page. Hardbacks are fine and dandy for you toffs (I believe that's what you call 1%ers in the UK, no?), but the people read paperbacks! (well used to read them, anyways.)

  2. Haha, well I think I will add a paperback page when I get a spare moment, Olman. I've certainly got plenty of great PB covers to pull together. And thank you for the kind words of encouragement!