Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Goughville-on-Sea


We are perhaps all familiar with the Batsford book jackets designed by Brian Cook in the 1930s. Brightly coloured and so evocative of an era blessed with some of the best in commercial art, they have become highly collectable. But post war, Batsford needed to rationalise, and all that bother with rubber plates and transparent inks was simply too expensive, and a whole lot of trouble for those down on the printroom floor. What was needed, particularly for the British Heritage Series, was a generic cover that would do for all the titles, so that all that had to happen was the dropping in of the title onto standard cartouches.

But just look at that illustration. Everything's here that the range of titles demanded: a town, village, church, cathedral, country house, coastline, quayside, a river and a castle. Somewhere I imagine is an 'old inn of England'. It's a cappricio of everything Batsford stood for, and doubtless some of these delightful juxtapositions rubbed off on me when I did my own town prints. The artist is Philip Gough, born in 1908 and trained in Liverpool as a theatre designer, and after producing designs for the original Toad of Toad Hall in 1929 he went on to work on some twenty five theatrical productions in London. Gough had a great love for the late eighteenth century and the Regency period, and his work is perhaps very redolent of that other great artist, sadly lost in the Second World War, Rex Whistler. So now I'm looking out for more of his work. I know he did at least five covers for individual Saturday Books, and in addition to illustrating authors such as Jane Austen he worked on several books for children. Oh dear, yet another collection appears about to start. I think there's still room in the still room. 

13 comments:

Chris Partridge said...

There is an inn - you can see the sign in the lane to the left of the church on the front cover.

Peter Ashley said...

Well done Chris, it had completely escaped me. Thank you. But something wrong there, me missing a pub.

Philip Wilkinson said...

What I like about this illustration is that I thought to myself, when looking at one of the books it wraps: 'What this needs is a folly on top of a hill.' Then I saw the spine, with the column, and realised that of course the viewpoint of the whole thing is...from the top of a hill.

Peter Ashley said...

Yes Phil. I love the way everything hangs together around the obelisk on the spine. I think you can definitely see Gough's theatrical illusions coming through.

Peter Ashley said...

Phil: Of course you're absolutely right saying 'column' rather than my 'obelisk'. I shall make the change. If you get my meaning.

Stephen Barker said...

He produced the dust jackets for novels including Georgette Heyer with whom he was a favourite. I have a couple of books that I bought on the strength of the dust jackets by him.

One is a novel called 'Amberwell' by D E Stevenson, showing a country house with a view of an estuary with a lady and gentleman in Eighteenth Century dress walking on the lawn.
The other is more fun, it is 'The Loves of Florizel' by Philip Lindsay about the love life of the Prince Regent. The cover shows a half naked Prince Regent reclining accompanied by an attractive shepherdess with a view of the Brighton Pavilion in the background. I wonder if Gough had seen Rex Whistler's painting of the Prince Regent and a reclining lady who represents Brighton?

Happy Hunting.

Peter Ashley said...

Thank you for that Stephen. I recall those Georgette Heyer jackets from my first job in Leicester Libraries, but probably disregarded them because I'd become hooked on Raymond Hawkey's jackets for early Len Deightons. Now of course....

Sue said...

The colours are gorgeous, and there is a timelessness about it - or at least nothing to give away whether it's late 19th C, early or mid 20th C.

Peter Ashley said...

You're right Sue. I think Batsford intended this cover to be around for some time.

Sue said...

Either that, or he couldn't draw cars!

Peter Ashley said...

Aah that's it!

Raju Khan said...

Like it bro.

GSGreatEscaper said...

Oh gosh - I thought when I saw it that it reminded me of the covers of my cherished D. E. Stevenson novels and Stephen Barker confirms that for me....