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!).


Levi Stahl said...

Oh, those Conrads are beautiful. I've long put off buying most Conrads because I early on in my reading life acquired a couple of the old Anchor paperbacks with the Edward Gorey covers (Victory and The Secret Agent). Stupidly, I thought that I would easily be able to find most of the rest in that line; the result is that I own far fewer of Conrad's novels than I've read.

Are the Folio Society editions new, or are these old images you're posting? If they're new, my problem may be solved . . .

JRSM said...

They're not brand-new, but they're all still available from Folio. I'm envious of your Gorey Conrads, I have to say. Those that I have are a whole mix of editions, though I do have a few of the sinister Phil Hale versions.

JRSM said...

I meant to include a link to Folio: - all 14 Mosley-designed Conrads are available there.

Anonymous said...

...And book-lovers in the UK should not buy at Amazon, given their appalling treatment of employees in their workhou- fulfilment centre as revealed last week by the Sunday Times. Shop in your local bookstore, or at The Book Depository online.

JRSM said...

That Amazon story is appalling. Another ethical book-buying internet shop is Better World Books in the US ( they do new and second-hand, donate most of their profits to Third-World literacy programs, and carbon-offset all their postage.

Will said...

I need that edition of M.R. James (let alone the Conrads). Thanks for turning me on to Francis Mosley.

I have Gorey's Agent (a favorite book for me as well). Have you found a list of his other Conrad covers?

Hadn't heard of the Times Amazon article -- very glad I read these comments. (For US customers needing UK books, no one can beat Book Depository.)

JRSM said...

Will: I've got a scan of Gorey's cover for 'Victory':

There's also a cover for 'Chance' at - though it's a bad black and white one.

I THINK that, along with 'The Secret Agent', those are the only Conrads he covered, but I may be wrong.

The Folio books really are beautiful: I wish I could afford more of them (I did buy a nice pile when a second-hand bookshop nearby went out of business and cut all their prices by half).

Levi Stahl said...

The only Edward Gorey-covered Conrads I have are The Secret Agent and Victory, though I had always (it seems mistakenly) assumed he'd done more, since he was doing so much cover illustration in those days. I've never come across a copy of Chance, sadly.

And agreed about the Book Depository (though the London Review of Books bookshop is also excellent and has an extremely helpful staff, even (especially?) via e-mail). I frequently get Book Depository orders within three days, despite the distance--and the shipping is free!

JRSM said...

The Book Depository get a LOT of my money, and much of the rest goes to Better World. Both fine, non-swinish internet bookshops.