Friday 18 May 2012

Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s: the Fabulous 50

So, as I mentioned I would be doing at the end of the previous post on Michael Frayn's Towards the End of the Morning, I've updated my Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s page with a further ten dustjackets, which brings the total number of covers up to fifty. One of those new additions you can see up top: artist Margaret Benyon's design for the 1965 Chatto & Windus first edition of Iris Murdoch's The Red and the Green, which I bought (in Lewes' A & Y Cumming) for Rachel for her recent birthday. The fact that I thought it would make for a nice addition to the Beautiful British Book Jackets gallery, and that its minimalist design reminded me of the Charles Gorham-designed Frayn wrapper (which has also joined the gallery), of course had absolutely no bearing on my purely altruistic decision to buy the book. Er, for Rachel. Ahem.

The rest of the new additions have already appeared elsewhere on Existential Ennui, but I've rephotographed the majority of them, so they look even more splendid now – or at least, better than their no doubt slightly shoddy original appearances. One of those rephotographed jackets, for spy and crime novelist Desmond Cory's Johnny Goes North, I've still not been able to find a first name for the designer (a Mr. Chambers), but on top of that there are other additions – two Gavin Lyall novels, two William Haggard ones, and a Sarah Gainham – where I've drawn a complete blank on any kind of credit. Those I've grouped at the bottom of the page under "Designer Unknown"; if you have an inkling of who the artist or designer was on any of them, do please leave a comment either on this post or on the page itself. UPDATE: And thank you once again to the magnificent Margaret Atwood and everyone else who retweeted the link to the gallery.

And speaking of Desmond Cory, it's to him that I'll be turning next, with a series of posts showcasing a very obscure early Cory crime/espionage thriller – in paperback, no less – and three very scarce Johnny Fedora first editions...


  1. The Spy's Bedside Book cover art seems to be derived from some early form of Stratego (also known as L'Attaque). In that game, The Spy's only function is to kill the opponent's most powerful piece, The Marshal, so he's really just an assassin.

    Or perhaps L'Attaque and Stratego were derived from whatever game these images are derived from. Either way, interesting.

  2. It is indeed based on L'Attaque, Chris. That's made explicit in the credit for the jacket, and it's something I mentioned in my original post on the book.