Saturday, January 05, 2019

Georgette Heyer's Book Covers

My mother introduced me to Georgette Heyer when I was about thirteen. She always bought the latest Georgette Heyer the moment it came out and, apart from enjoying the stories, I also admired the covers. I quickly realized that they were a pastiche of Regency prints – we had a number of prints by Rowlandson at home, and my mother had a copy of Batsford’s plates from the Gallery of Fashion 1790-1822, which is now mine, so I recognized the sort of clothes Heyer’s characters would have worn.  

Illustration from theGallery of Fashion’

I don’t know what happened to all my mother’s first editions of Georgette Heyers, unfortunately. I bought my own paperback copies, some with awful covers, like this 1962 cover of The Corinthian.

The Pan Books 1962 cover of ‘The Corinthian’

Fortunately, some, like the 1963 Peacock cover by Victor Ambrus, a well-respected book illustrator, are rather good. (Peacock was a Penguin Books imprint which, age-wise, came between Puffin Books for children, and Penguin Books for adults.) The Ambrus pictures have energy and movement which captures the restlessness and impetuosity of the young hero, Dominic, and the excitement of the story, perfectly. And, big plus, he'd obviously actually read the book.

 Devil's Cub front  cover by Victor Ambrus

Victor Ambrus's back cover for Devil's Cub

I did manage to buy some hardback Heyers in second hand bookshops, a number of which were first editions – but, as one of her early books, These Old Shades, sold over 190,000 copies in hardback when it came out in 1926, first editions are not particularly rare. Her books were automatic bestsellers, after all.

Georgette Heyer’s ‘Friday’s Child’, 1944, cover by Philip Gough

A number of Heyer’s early novels had books covers by Philip Gough, and I particularly like his cover for Friday’s Child’ with the heroine gazing out of the window. We cannot see her face and do not know what she’s looking at so intently, but it draws us in.

I already had a paperback copy of the book, but I happily upgraded it for this nice edition with the original cover.  

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer, cover design by Arthur Barbosa

I value my Georgette Heyers – they have given me a lot of pleasure over the years. I have been known to buy a second hand hardback copy of a Georgette Heyer simply for its cover, for example, Sprig Muslin. My own copy was a first edition hardback but it was coverless. I bought this copy for £4.99 – not expensive, put the new cover on it, and donated the book I’d just bought, now coverless, back to the Charity Shop.

'Sylvester' by Georgette Heyer, book cover by Arthur Barbosa

I did the same thing with Sylvester, which has another Barbosa cover. I was particularly pleased with this purchase because I didn’t know what the original cover looked like, so I was thrilled to find it.

I’d be very surprised to find that I’m the only Heyer fan to do such a thing! It just goes to show that a classy cover really can sell a book. And the continuing popularity of Heyer's novels. 

Georgette Heyer, photo by Howard Coster, 1939

A closing note
This is my last post for the Historical Romance UK Blogspot and I’d like to thank all of you who have followed me. I hope you have enjoyed the posts – I certainly enjoyed writing them.

I shall continue to blog every Sunday on my Elizabeth Hawksley website and I hope that you will visit me there.  I also Tweet whenever I put up a new post. @Hawksley_E

I have recently expanded my list of Categories which has a number of areas of interest to readers of Historical Romance, for example: Castles (including Stately Homes); Exhibitions (King Charles II and Power Dressing; or historical royal toys at Buckingham Palace); Exploring London (Behind the scenes at the Royal Mews); Fashion (History of Underwear exhibition at the V & A); Jane Austen and her World (posts about Georgette Heyer are listed here); Royal Connections (from sexy John of Gaunt to a Medieval Queen’s bathroom at Leeds Castle); Notable People (Lord Byron, Georgette Heyer) There are eighteen categories in all and posts appear in more than one category.

You are welcome to browse. Click on Blog, then on Categories.

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I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2019.

Elizabeth Hawksley