|a palpable sense of the sinister|
Coming next month are Punshon's Bobby Owen mysteries from the 1940s, an interesting period for the series, when the UK was bedeviled by war and postwar austerity. (And people think times are bad now!)
This was also a period when a major American publisher, Macmillan, picked up Punshon, producing much more attractive editions than what Punshon's longtime and steadfast English publisher, Gollancz, was putting out at the time.
Among book collectors Gollancz's so-called "Yellow Peril" dust jackets has an infamous reputation. Noted publisher Victor Gollancz was not a believer in using attractive jacket art--or any art to speak of, really--to sell books.
Gollancz did believe in blurbs, however, and typically the Punshon novels published by the firm would bear Dorothy L. Sayers' famous "What is distinction?" blurb, drawn from a 1933 rave review of Punshon's first Bobby Owen novel, Information Received. Sometimes other blurbists of eminence were used by Gollancz, such as John Betjeman (see below), who later became Poet Laureate.
Macmillan, on the other hand, offered pleasing cover designs by prominent jacket artists of the time. Their books were also much better made. On account of paper shortages, Gollancz editions at this time used tissue thin, acidic paper and microscopic print.
Reading Forties Gollancz books is not the aesthetic pleasure a devoted reader would like, their merit notwithstanding; but happily these new Punshon editions, which will be available both in paper and digital versions, will offer a great improvement on that score!
|classy cover art|
Additional discussion of these matters, and more, will be found in the introductions to the new Punshon reissues by Dean Street Press.