Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Formal Affair: Some Joan Kiddell-Monroe Book Jackets

Joan Kiddell-Monroe (1908-1972) was born in Clacton-on-Sea, England, the daughter of William Kiddell-Monroe, a private secretary, and his wife, Lallah Ethel Frances Lloyd. (Finally! in my researches in this field I've found someone who actually was employed as a private secretary: the great Golden Age American crime writer John Dickson Carr once opined that the private secretary, that fixture of Golden Age detective fiction, was the most likely candidate to be the actual murderer in country house mysteries.)

"KM," to use Joan Kiddell-Monroe's signature on her work, studied at the Chelsea School of Art and, reminiscent of Dorothy L. Sayers, was briefly employed in the advertising industry before she became a successful freelance artist. 

In the 1940s and 1950s KM was a prominent illustrator of children's books, particularly those dealing with world myths and legends; yet she also, more pertinent to this blog, did some crime fiction illustrations for Hodder & Stoughton, evidently having come the publisher's way through the illustrations she drew for the Nettleford series of books by Malcolm Saville (1901-1982), the popular English children's author (and Enid Blyton rival).

KM drew the cover art for Josephine Bell's The China Roundabout (1956), Double Doom (1957), The Seeing Eye (1958) and The House above the River (1959).  I'm guessing she may have done the jacket as well for one of Bell's best crime novels, Death in Retirement (1956), but I have not seen the Hodder jacket for that one.

I'll be reviewing two of the above books pretty soon, incidentally, but not before I post some reviews of books by other authors, in case you are tiring of all this Bell-ringing.  But I will add now that have dug up some interesting personal detail about Bell and her tragic connection to another (short-lived) English detective novelist.  Stay tuned!  Same Tramp time, same Tramp channel, to borrow from Batman, my favorite syndicated television series, along with Scooby-Doo and The Munsters, as a child. RIP Adam West.

No comments:

Post a Comment