PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

PAN Fans - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

Ralph Holmes Vernon-Hunt 2

HuntRalph Holmes Vernon-Hunt was the nephew of Alan Bott, founder of PAN Books. Born on the 23rd May 1923 he was educated at Malvern College and later served in the RAF where he was awarded a DFC. As mentioned in the last blog he worked at Hudson’s bookshop in Birmingham immediately after the war where he learnt all about the book trade (Coincidently I’ll be passing where it was this morning returning hire suits – see tailpiece!) On the 27th April 1946 Vernon-Hunt married Elizabeth Mary Harris at Northwich.

It was in 1947 that he became Sales Director at PAN where he remained until 1962. Whilst at PAN he was responsible for bestsellers like ‘The Dambusters’, ‘Enemy Coast Ahead’ and ‘Peyton Place’ The most successful titles were Fleming’s James Bond novels. In ‘The Times’ obituary it states;

“Vernon-Hunt himself (at his own instigation, it is believed) was the first visual interpretation of Mr Bond, when his face appeared on the front cover of the first of the Fleming yarns”

This is patently wrong as the ‘Casino Royale’ JB from 1955 was supposed to be based on Richard Conte, ditto Dick Orme from 1959 and Sam Peffer modelled Bond on himself for the 1957 ‘Live And Let Die’ so Vernon-Hunt was certainly not the first.

In 1962 he left PAN to join the newly established publisher Paul Hamlyn as Sales Director but returned to PAN in 1969 as Managing Director. In 1980 he became Deputy Chairman of PAN but retired two years later due to ill health. He died on 10th November 1987 and was survived by his wife and two children.

“He was a charming man with a driving personality which together with a charismatic and buccaneering style of salesmanship made the name of Pan books famous all over the world”

To see a copy of Ralph Venn-Hunt’s will click HERE

The film ‘Goldfinger’ premiered in London 50 years ago on September 17th 1964 so I’m using that as an excuse to include the cover featuring Vernon-Hunt as JB. Coincidently Vernon-Hunt’s uncle, Alan Bott, founder of PAN Books died suddenly on the 17th September 1952 aged 58.GoldfingerNot PAN but can’t pass without saying congratulations to our daughter Katherine and partner Stuart. It was a really lovely wedding last Saturday. All the best for a very long and happy future together.

Alun Hood?

Having just picked up a copy of the 1978 title ‘Nature On Your Side’ describing how to use natural remedies to get rid of pests I looked on the back and saw the cover was by Alun Hood. The name was vaguely familiar and I have tracked down another two covers he did for PAN. He also did numerous covers for other publishers in the 70’s and 80’s

The one thing I can’t find is any information about him. Can anyone help?

I recently had a comment posted by Gareth Powell regarding Ralph Vernon-Hunt who I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog. Gareth knew Ralph and wrote “Ah yes, I remember him well. I first met him in 1956 when I was working with Smith Trade News. He was a total charmer. He introduced me to Paul Hamlyn and treated me as if we were equals. We were nothing of the sort. I was then a trade journalist but it mattered not. I have always had a soft spot for Ralph Vernon Hunt and remember meeting him for the last time in, of all places Mumbai which was Bombay then” I have since tracked down his obituary  and will have more on him next week but as a taster I was interested to see he worked in Hudson’s Bookshop in Birmingham. This was a proper bookshop and when I was aspiring to be a teacher(!) it was the place you went to for all your text books.Hudsons

George Sharp 2

Name1Still visiting hospital taking mother-in-law but things not quite as an ‘emergency’ as they were, now downgraded to ‘urgent’ which means I’ve been able to add a few more bits and pieces to George’s page. This is a representative selection of work he did not only for PAN but other publishers. I was really pleased to be able to meet up with him at his flat in London and I was even more pleased when he generously gave me the three pieces of original artwork shown on the page. I am having them framed at the moment and they will take pride of place on my wall along with ‘The Chequer Board’ I already had. They were not originally signed but they are now. If I was to pick a favourite it would be ‘On The Beach’ but surprisingly, and George agreed, it is better as book cover size with the colours being more vibrant and intense, probably a quirk of the printing process.On The Beach C

I contacted George regarding the credit anomoly on the Herriot covers and he replied “Rob McCaig assisted me on the project. It is his work only in part for we both worked on each of 11 paintings completed over a period of little more than a week in order to re-jacket  the entire backlist in order to coincide with the publishing of James Herriott’s final hardback. Somebody at Pan removed my credit”


Val Biro 1921 to 2014

VBBooksI have only just learnt that the prolific artist Val Biro passed away on the 4th July this year. It was a pleasure to meet up with him a couple of years ago at his studio in Bosham, West Sussex. Balint Stephen Biro was born on the 6th October 1921 in Budapest and studied at the Jaschnick School of Art before coming to the UK as war loomed. He continued to study at the  Central School of Art in London from where he went on to painting numerous covers for PAN in the 1950’s

George Sharp Part 1

Round The Bend

George Sharp with the original artwork for ‘Round The Bend’ by Nevil Shute

Unfortunately, due to elderly in-law problems involving several visits to doctors and the hospital this week I’ve not managed to finish the page for George Sharp as I would have liked. I will try this week but click on the link to see it so far.

One anomaly is that the James Herriot covers from around the 80’s state they are by George Sharp and Robb McCaig and the page shows three examples of the original artwork that George has. In the boxed set of 2012 using the same artwork the only credit is given to Robb McCaig, I think I may need to contact George regarding this.

I did find time to scan in another 24 Barbara Cartland covers. That was a very long session well into the night but if you need something to send you to sleep it certainly helps.

Derek (Arthur) Stowe

ds6A few months back Derek Stowe contacted me to see if I was interested in having some details of his life and work, I jumped at the chance.

Since then it’s been trying to track down examples of Derek’s covers and with the last one on the list from the Bodleian Library this week I can now launch his pages. As with other artists I include not just his work for PAN but for other publishers as well to give a wider portfolio of work. You can also find him on the Artists link on the main site.


(William) Francis Marshall (1901 to 1980)

Francis Marshall studied at Slade College of Fine Art, London before entering the world of advertising illustration. In 1928 he began a 10-year relationship with Condé Nast, drawing for ‘Vogue’ In 1959 he wrote a successful book on drawing entitled ‘Magazine Illustration’ plus many other, a selection of which are shown below.

He also painted numerous covers for romantic fiction especially the Barbara Cartland titles for PAN. He also produced Cartland covers for Bantam, Corgi and NEL amongst others. I have compiled a list of list of Cartland fiction titles published by PAN and make it 129 a few of which are illustrated HERE I’m wondering if I have the will power and the stamina to try and find them all!

As I mentioned last week all the Barbara Cartland titles appear to be being reissued as part of the ‘Eternal’ collection (previously published) or the ‘Pink’ collection (unpublished) and are reusing artwork from other publishers from around the 70’s . The two examples below are both using Francis Marshall artwork from PAN. ‘The Horizons of Love’ has now become ‘A Golden Lie’

Nearly missed my favourite book sale of the year in Lichfield last Friday. I thought it was cancelled as couldn’t find it advertised but they have changed it from June to August. Thanks to an eagle eyed friend who just happened to be walking past the hall last week and saw a poster. I seem to have ended up with a very eclectic mix (my wife added a few) but to fill a bag for a couple of pounds is too good to miss.

I bought the James Herriot title ‘Vet in Harness’ as I spent the day in London yesterday visiting the cover artist George Sharp and wanted some of his work to take to be signed. More on this in a couple of weeks.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – JAWS 2

After mentioning ‘JAWS’ last week I was surprised to see that ‘Radio Times’ had this week coincidently also mentioned ‘JAWS’ in that Andrew Collins thought the sound track was one of the best ever (illustrated using the Roger Kastel artwork)JawsThis lead on to other coincidences in that while looking for shark pictures I found one by (William) Francis Marshall who was also the artist for a vast number of covers for the PAN Barbara Cartland series painted around the mid 70’s.

Some of those covers have resurfaced, along with ones from Corgi, Bantam, NEL etc. in the Barbara Cartland Eternal Collection and the Barbara Cartland Pink Collection.

To be continued next week.

JAWS – 40 Years On

Tried to attempt the annual ‘throw out’ and failed due to always finding something that causes a distraction. This time it was a large pile of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books we have acquired over the years from friends and relatives who would otherwise have put them in a bin. I picked one up and was immediately hooked by the fact the artwork for one story was by Brian Sanders, a popular PAN book cover artist as  featured on the website. Investigating further I found George Sharp, Roger Coleman, Michael Johnson and Alan Lee. My wife spotted a mention of ‘JAWS 2′ being shortly published by PAN that made me start looking at other covers and who painted them. I can’t find a name for ‘JAWS’ but the Roger Kastel movie poster was used for later editions as was the Lou Feck poster for ‘JAWS 2′  Ken Hatherley, studio manager at PAN in the 70’s still doesn’t get the credit for the iconic JAWS teeth he designed!JawsteethWe went to see ‘JAWS’ at the cinema the day it came out, queuing for ages and then being the last ones allowed in. No seats left so we had to stand at the back but how we all jumped when that face appeared at the boat window ……..!

One seller currently has three 1st edition 2nd printing copies of ‘Casino Royale’ on eBay UK at the moment, plus a very poor copy of ‘Moonraker’, I shall be watching!

UPDATE Really tatty ‘Moonraker’ £71 (20 bids) Another on at the moment at £16 (11 bids) The three copies of ‘Casino Royale’ went for £24 (14 bids) £27.10 (27 bids) and £33.54 (25 bids) so looks like the bottom may have fallen out of the market for ‘Casino Royale’ if not for ‘Moonraker’ at the moment.

Not so much PAN – more Buku Roket

Having come across Greek James Bond titles with a distinctive PAN flavour I have now found a site showing nearly a dozen Indonesian variations on PAN Ian Fleming covers. They are on a blog by Tokohitam called Black Chamber plus I found a few more on other sites. I’ve put them together below as a slide show. If anyone has any spare copies I’d certainly be interested.

I used Google translate on the titles and got some very strange (and amusing) results. I also noticed that a John Creasey had become a Bond (OHMSS) as below and I have to admit I do quite like ‘Thrilling Cities 2′ in red.Gun