Wednesday 7 May 2014

P. M. Hubbard's A Hive of Glass (Fingerprint Books Edition, Hamish Hamilton, 1972) in British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s

Before I make a belated return to the signed editions, I've one last P. M. Hubbard book I'd like to take a look at to round off this latest run of posts on the author:

A Hive of Glass, Hubbard's third novel for adults and his fifth overall (including his two novels for younger readers). Originally published in hardback in the UK in 1965 by Michael Joseph, the edition seen here is the later 1972 Hamish Hamilton hardback, with a somewhat slapdash but still apposite photo-collage dust jacket designed by Tom Sawyer; those familiar with the novel will doubtless be drawn to the glass tazza in particular, but also perhaps the black-eyed old woman, who I take to be the blind and autocratic Aunt Elizabeth.

Hamish Hamilton was in the habit in the 1970s of acquiring lapsed hardback rights – note the seven-year gap between the Joseph and Hamilton editions of A Hive of Glass, seven years being the typical term of a book publishing contract – on crime and suspense novels and bringing them into the publisher's Fingerprint Books imprint; I blogged about a 1976 Hamilton hardback reissue of P. D. James's debut novel Cover Her Face, originally published in hardback by Faber in 1962 – a fourteen-year gap between the Faber/Hamilton editions there, suggesting Faber reacquired the rights for a further seven years after their initial term – back in 2010, and the back cover of this edition of A Hive of Glass lists many of the other authors and novels Hamilton gathered together.

I've also blogged about A Hive of Glass before; I reviewed the novel in 2011, in a 1966 Panther paperback edition, as at the time I wasn't able to lay my hands on a Joseph first. I still haven't been able to in the interim, hence why I decided to purchase this Hamilton edition, for 99p (plus postage), simply so I could own the novel – arguably the quintessential Hubbard work of dark suspense – in hardback (which format I much prefer to paperback). I'll continue to keep an eye out for a Michael Joseph first edition, but in the meantime, given that the Hamilton edition is itself becoming quite scarce, with at present just one copy on AbeBooks and only a couple more on Amazon Marketplace, this is a perfectly acceptable substitute. Plus it affords me the opportunity to introduce Hubbard into the Existential Ennui British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s gallery, where there are now seven Hubbard covers, taking the total number of covers therein to 138.


  1. Nice to see the tazza on the cover. Ought to help those prospective readers unfamiliar with antiquarian glass get a good visual for the object of the narrator's lust. The eyeless androgyne I'm not so keen on. Reminds me of the mysterious blind figure from THE SENTINEL.

  2. I, for one, had never heard the term tazza before

  3. I hadn't either before reading the novel, Ron.

    John, to answer your question from the other Hubbard post, about Flush as May: I'm sure we can work something out. Drop me an email when you get a moment.