Monday 29 December 2008

The World of David Gentleman

I'm currently reading a very good and, almost inevitably, out of print novel by David Garnett: A Shot in the Dark (nothing to do with the Pink Panther movie of the same name). It's an old Penguin paperback, with a cover by David Gentleman.

Gentleman has a long history as an artist, and there are a number of interviews with him available online. He does lithography, woodcuts, ink and watercolours, and has designed numerous stamps as well as book covers.

To begin with, here are some of his Penguin Modern Classics (click for bigger versions of almost everything here).

Then there are some of his other Penguin designs.

He also designed all of the New Penguin Shakespeare covers in the 1970s: here they are displayed on an advertising sheet from the era.

Gentleman's own travels have yielded a number of art books...

..and this talent for landscape has been used to great effect on the Faber covers for gun-mad Lawrence Durrell and others.

He's also collaborated with previously un-noted Hero of this Blog Russell Hoban (anyone who can write books as brilliant and as different as Riddley Walker, Turtle Diary and the Frances the Badger series is highly regarded around these parts).

And here's the bit at the end of the post where the other covers I've found by him get all jumbled together...

Ebury published a collection of Gentleman's artwork in 2000, cunningly entitled Artwork.

The cover is a detail from one of Gentleman's many stamps.

Monday 22 December 2008

Francis Mosley & Folio

Suspicions arise within me that various imminent religious holidays, pagan celebrations and both spousal and own birthdays will interfere with the regularity of posting here over the next couple of weeks. Before any potential absence, though (not that any of this is planned ahead: as with much in life, I'm winging it), cop an eyeful of some other lovely Folio Society books and their illustrations, all designed and drawn by Francis Mosley.

Here's the cover and some of the interior art for a collection of the great M. R. James' ghost stories.

Afficionados of James' work will recognise at once which stories some of these illustrate.

Mosley has also had the distinction of designing and illustrating all of Folio's Joseph Conrad books, a beautiful set of deep blue volumes with bold, text-free front covers. Click for bigger versions.

And here are a few of the interior illustrations, taken from (in order), The Secret Agent (one of my favourite books ever), The Mirror of the Sea (one of Conrad's autobiographies), and Heart of Darkness.

From Conrad to Conan Doyle: Mosley designed and illustrated Folio's Sherlock Holmes set (shown here with an illustration from The Valley of Fear).

And then there's his design on The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell, part of his amazing trilogy about the collapse of the British Empire.

And we'll finish this look at his Folio work with a glimpse of The Shooting Party, Anton Chekhov's only full-length novel, which is also a cunning murder mystery whose central conceit was later stolen by Agatha Christie for what might otherwise have been her most original, and least annoying, novel.

Mister Mosley has done a lot of other book design, as well as writing and illustrating a number of his own children's books.

Basically, he's ace.

* * *

Now, before I wander off in search of Christmas booze (ah, sweet booze), a quick reminder to those of you in Australia who haven't yet bought all of your Christmas presents. You will, of course, be buying books. You will not, I hope, be buying them at Borders. If tempted to do that, look at the price tag. You'll find that, specials aside, the price of all their normal book stock is at least 10% higher than the Australian recommended retail price (an example: Cormac McCarthy's imminently filmed The Road sells elsewhere for $22.95, while at Borders it's yours for $25.50--bargain!).