PAN Fans Club

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

PAN Fans Club - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

Jessamyn West, Gino d’Achille, Nevil Shute and an Update

I will confess I’d never heard of Jessamyn West until I saw someone selling an Uncorrected Proof copy of ‘The Massacre at Fall Creek’ PAN appears to have only published this one title out of the twenty one books she wrote. Mary Jessamyn West was born in Vernon, Indiana, on July 18, 1902 and die in Napa County, California on February 23, 1984 

Having had two cover artworks hanging on the wall in frames for a while I decided to take them out and see if there was anything written on the back. They are the Panther edition of ‘You’ll Walk to Manfdalay’ by John Sibly and the PAN edition of The Diary of a Desert Rat’ by R L Crimp (possibly Reginald Lewis?) Now I know the Sibly is by Gino’ d’Achille as it says so on the back of the book cover and, as I have discovered, on the back of the artwork. Unfortunately the PAN has nothing on the back but I am going to stick my neck out and say I am 95% sure it is also by Gino. I obtained both artworks from the same source, the make of board and the size are exactly the same as is the blueish mottled paper used as a cover to protect the artwork. Can anyone confirm it is by d’Achille? (Photo of R. L. Crimp)

Being a member of a Facebook page for Nevil Shute fans I’m grateful to Paul Pearson who back in October gave my website a plug. It caught my attention because Georhge Sharp was mentioned’.Paul is happy for me to include what he wrote here:
“It was on a family sailing holiday in 1980 or 1981 and during a spell of typically unsettled August weather on the south coast of England, the type that troubles all amateur yachtsman just like NS himself, that I saw a Nevil Shute novel – or should I say I saw a stack of seven. I looked up from another novel to see my father descending the companionway of our yacht balancing a stack of paperbacks. These were all Nevil Shute novels, newly purchased reading matter to last the several days it would take for the unwanted gale to pass. As a curious teenage reader I eventually took them down from the crowded ship’s bookcase and admired the beguiling cover art. I discovered much later, after I became a fan myself, that they were the work of the same artist – George Sharp – and understood that part of their appeal was that they were wholly suitable to Shute’s writing style: visually clean, uncluttered and accessible
The covers created by George Sharp for the early eighties Pan editions have remained my favourite Nevil Shute covers ever since and I have just completed collecting, via the usual online sites, a full set of good copies of this superb series.
Another and even bigger fan of this series is Tim Kitchen who has produced a fascinating online resource showcasing the extensive cover art work of George Sharp. Sharp produced many for other authors at Pan although none, to my eye at least, as good as the Shute covers. Tim is lucky enough to own several large scale cover original works, which look stunning. His page documenting Sharp’s work on many book covers and his career at Pan can be found at:
Whilst collecting the set and having found his site I contacted Tim who generously took the time to respond in detail. With his consent I include here some of the lovely information he shared with me:
“Thanks for getting in touch especially regarding George and his covers as they are amongst my favourites as well. You’re right in that there are only 22 of the 23 titles as ‘A Town Like Alice’ was a BBC programme at the time so that was a tie-in. I’ve spoken to George many times about doing the missing one, even offered money, but he says he just lost the ability to do it to the standard he would want.
The only complete run of the 23 Shute titles PAN published is in the Roger Coleman series from 1974 which are nice in that they are wrap around covers and were also used by Ballantine in the States. I often wonder if he got paid twice, probably not!
As for George’s original artwork it could be anywhere as PAN was not as careful as they might have been at returning it to the artist and pieces often ‘walked’ I have four, three of which George gave me when he was clearing out after moving home. I called in to see him and he just said did I want them? Well, it would have been rude to refuse. ‘The Chequer Board’ I got from the studio manager at PAN back in the 80’s (when George was artistic director there) and who had been given it as a wedding present by George.
George is OK and although not in the best of health he is always very quick at responding to my random emails although sometimes with very brief content”
Tim is absolutely right about the Roger Coleman wrap round art – my next favourite Shute cover series. My own favourite Sharp covers would include ‘Round the Bend’, ‘So Disdained’ and ‘An Old Captivity’ – what are yours?”

UPDATE Since posting about the passing of Wilbur Swmith a couple of weeks ago I have been looking for photos of the artwork for four of his titles painted by Kevin Tweddell I knew I had and have just been lucky. Click HERE to scoll down to see them on the updated page.

French Revolution Series, ‘The Boys’ and a Tom Sharpe Box Set

This week the Jean Plaidy titles are for the three in ‘The French Revolutuon‘ series and I was pleased to see that one of the covers has John Raynes signature which makes a change

I’m not sure why, as they are usually very uninspiring, but I do like to have ‘Uncorrected Proof’ copies and this week it is for ‘The Boys From Brazil’ by Ira Levin. PAN published two editions, the later being a film tie-in and my copy of this has a ‘With Compliments’ stamp in it leaving me to speculate as to whom the recipeint might have been?

I‘m always after boxed sets of PAN Books especially from the 60s, 70s, and 80s so I was particulaly pleased to find an 80s boxed set of four titles from Tom Sharpe with artwork by Paul Sample. They were for sale in the States for peanuts and for once the postage was acceptable – and came very fast. I’ve photograhed the box and scanned the four covers which are all dated 1980 and can be seen by clicking HERE

‘Tamiko’, ‘The Scapegoat’ and R.I.P. John and Wilbur

I ‘m still going through Hans Helwegs’ sketches and there was one that I really felt I knew but just couldn’t get the title. It was very similar to earlier editions of Tamiko  by Roanald Kirkbride, and it turns out I was right as it was for the later version by Hans from 1971

Having spotted another couple of cover varients a few weeks ago I’ve just got a third for ‘The Scapegoat’ by Daphne du Maurier. I’m not sure what it is about this particular tilte but I don’t really like any of the three versions., maybe the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to something more eye catching. Maybe I should read it? The latest one is by Pam Masco and joins versions by Gino d’Achille and Gordon Grabbe. I will add it to the du Maurier page shortly as it will need a move around to get all the same titles together.

No sooner was I adding the news that we had lost John Pearson than they announced the death of prolific writer and ‘Golden PAN Award’ winner Wilbur Smith.

John George Pearson (05.10.1930– 13.11.2021) was born in Epsom, Surrey and wrote several fiction and non-fiction titles including E12′The Life of Ian Fleming’ and ‘The Authorisd Biography of James Bond’ ‘The Life of Ian Fleming” numbered as E11 seems to be rare as it was published just on the cusp of ISBNs coming in. Often the latter is called a first as the dates in side are the same.

Wilbur Addison Smith (09.01.1933 – 13.11.2021) was a Zambian-born South African novelist and was probably the holder of the most ‘Golden PAN Awards’ for selling over a million copies of at least 22 of his 34 PAN titles. He has written 49 novels selling over 140 million copies worldwide. PAN originally published his books but he left them in 2012 for Harper Collins and then Bonnier in 2017. To see his page click HERE.

‘Song of the Undersea’, No Pop-up Bookshop and ‘The Spanish Inquisition’

This weeks Hans Helweg artwork is for ‘Song of the Undersea’ by Ronald Kirkwood. Ronald de Levington Kirkbride (01/02/1912 to 23/03/1973) was a Canadian writer of escapist romances, westerns, and mystery novels. He was probably best known for his novel ‘A Girl Named Tamiko first published in 1959 which sold one million copies worldwide and a screenplay based on the novel become a film in 1962 with the same name directed by John Sturges. I’ll feature Tamiko next week. I’ve also included the cover of the first UK edition of ‘Song of the Undersea’ in hardback as I love the slightly raunchy cover which certainly sets the scene better than the PAN cover. I’ve also included the first US cover based on the UK but sadly ruined but that’s just my opinion.

Disappointed to see this on their Facebook page last week  ‘Pop Up Bookshop Wolverhampton October 28th Sadly at the moment there isn’t a shop available to rent in the Wulfrun centre and the one in the Mander Centre is too small. We are still hoping a shop comes available in the next few weeks… keep your eye on this page. Jude and Steve’ In some ways this is actually good news in that a) they like to think big when it comes to shops and b) shops are being relet although I suspect a lot are for just the run up to Christmas. If they do manage to find premises I’ll be there to report back. UPDATE They have just posted they can’t get a shop this year but fingers crossed for next.

Whie sorting the Jean Plaidy titles I found there was a series that PAN did not include but was published by ‘STAR’, the paperback divison of W H Allen & Co. Ltd, namely three titles in ‘The Spanish Inquisition‘ series. I will revert to the PAN titles shortly as still checking I have all the ones they actually published plus trying to ttrack down the artists.

More Jean Plaidy, ‘Paperbacks in Print’ and ‘The Magnificent Air Race’

As there are only two titles in theMary Stuart series’ by Jean Plaidy I’m also including the only one forJames 1st’

I’m always on the lookeout for copies of ‘British Paperbacks in Print’ published from 1960 onwards by J Whitaker and Sons Ltd. but not at the silly prices sometimes asked. My last copy from Winter 1963/64 was £6, a little cheaper than the asking price by this optimistic seller! Still looking for some of the eitions from the late 60’s to the earlyish 70s. What is annoying about this is I have the 1979/80/81 and 83 editions and this one is 1982 but I’m not that desperate to fill a space on the shelf!

Having had the artwork for ‘That Magnificent Air Race’ by Glenn Steward in a horrible frame for several years I bit the bullet and got a new one but while doing so took the opportunity to do proper scans. I’ve included the US version for this John Burke novelistaion of the film along with a German one I came across. I’ve also include a scan of a PAN AM book cover because it just looked so similar or that could just be me.

The Victorians Saga, ‘Is Paris Burning’ and Simon Marsh-Devine

This weeks Plaidy series is for ‘The Victorians’ of which PAN published all five titles plus a title from the ‘Queens of England’ called ‘Victoria Victorious’

A  couple of years ago, on a flying visit to Amsterdam, I picked up a PAN first edition of ‘O Jerusalem’ for a euro on the market. I looked at the time if there were other books from PAN by the same authors and there were three. I managed to get hold of two but the thirid ‘Is Paris Burning’ was very elusive or at a silly price. Luckily a saved search came up with two copies recently but only the second one I received was correct. Does anyone want a haardback copy in French which was sent to me as a PAN paperback? Still trying to track down the cover artists.

Back in the early 90s, at the time of the infamous Bonham’s auction, Simon Marsh-Devine produced a catalogue listing artworks by Sam ‘Peff’ Peffer, Pat Owen and Edward Mortelmans that were for sale. I had this on the site as a Flash ‘book’ but with the demise of Flash  it has become unavailable so as a compromise I’ve just put all the pages on one page which can be viewed HERE I was only reminded to check this after it was mentioned in an email from book dealer Ray Steptoe plus thanks to Jules Burt for letting me borrow his copy of the cataloge to scan a few years back. I think Simon Marsh-Devine is still with us and living around Weston Super Mare, can anyone confirm that as I’d love to ask him a few questions?

‘New’ Covers, Kennedy(s) and ‘Lady Boss’

I find it odd that just when I think I must have all the covers for a title up pops another one and last week it was not one but two. The first is painted by Jean-Paul Tibbles for a later edition of ‘Falconhurst Fancy’ by Kyle Onstott and Lance Horner while the other if by Geoff Hunt for ‘Brown on Resolution’ by C S Forester.

This weeks artwork by Hans Helweg is for the 1966 edition of H3 ‘Kennedy’ by Theodore C. Sorensen. I’ve also added another four titles published by PAN with a link to the Kennedy clan on the page.

Having been a member of the Jackie Collins fan club ever since I found PAN published her books I had to watch ‘Lady Boss – The Jackie Collins Story’ on BBC 2 last Friday hoping for a reference to PAN but sad to say no sign of any of their covers, just the US editions.

‘Earthlight’, ‘Command The Morning’ and a new boss at PAN

Having managed tp pick up a copy of ‘Earthlight’ signed by Arthur C Clarke I looked to see how many different covers PAN used over the years. I have at least five with covers by GORDON, William Francis Phillipps, an awful one with a photo, Chris Foss and one that was first used by Ballantine by Dean Ellis. What is a little unusual is that my 1974 PAN edition has the edges coloured red while the Ballantine editon from 1975 has yellow although this is much more common on US paperbacks.

This weeks Hans Helweg artwork is for the Pearl Buck title’ Command the Morning’ of which PAN appears to have published three editions with the later two having the same artwork by Hans.for which he got £50.80 in April 1967. I have queried the artist for the earlier edition from 1962 as J Oval (Ben Ostrick) although it looks a little like a SHELDON?

It was announced last week that the current C.E.O. of PAN Macmillan, Anthony Forbes Watson, is stepping down early next year and will be replaced by Joanne Prior who was MD for Penguin General. I’m wondering if she has plans for a 75th Birthday Bash in 2022? I met Anthony back in 2017 in London at the 70th Celebrations  where he presented several ‘Golden PAN Awards’ 

3 ? Covers, Sam Peffer, the ‘Plantagenets’ and ‘Timeshift’

I’m still looking through Hans Helweg’s folders and there are several small paintings which I am presuminig are working ideas for the real thing. Here are 3 such paintings and while all look vaguely familiar I can’t actually put a title to them apart from the first one might be an alternative for ‘The Horsy Set’?

I’m still trying to track down Sam Peffer covers to go with his reference photos and I was convinced I’d got one for ‘Trial By Fury’ but turns out to be not quite right., It was while looking at the cover it reminded me of something Sam and I now have in common. When he was 91, not quite there myself yet, he slipped on a step and ended up with a broken hip that needed to be replaced.

This weeks Jean Plaidy series is for ‘The Plantagenets’ of which PAN published the first 7 of the 14 titles and so did not include ‘The Follies of the King’, ‘The Vow on the Heron’, ‘Passage to Pontefract’, ‘The Star of Lancaster’, ‘Epitaph for Three Women’, ‘Red Rose of Anjou’ and ‘The Sun in Splendour’ As with other series the same artwork for several titles was used by Putnam in the States.

After watching ‘Timeshift’ on BBC4 last week I can add a couple of screen captures for the PAN As Seen on TV’ page. A very quick black and white scan of PAN tiltes plus some in colour later (you need to scroll to the bottom of the page)

‘Olga da Polga’, Pearl Buck and later PAN Majors from Jules.

Having watched eight PUFFIN Easy Readers for ‘Olga da Polga’ on eBay in the States start at $400 and slowly going down in price with each listing I eventually bit the bullet when it got to $50. What made them attractive was that they are all signed by author Michael Bond. Although I already had seven with artwork by Hans Helweg there was one very elusive title listed on other sites from £45 to over £100 and not even signed. What also made up my mind was winning £50 on the Premium Bonds so how could I not buy them!

Returning to Hans Helweg’s sketches and original artwork this weeks selection is ‘The Three Daughters of Madam Liang’ by Pearl Buck. “After her husband takes a concubine, Madame Liang sets out on her own, starting an upscale restaurant and sending her daughters to America to be educated. At the restaurant, the leaders of the People’s Republic wine and dine and Madame Liang must keep a low profile for her daughters’ sake. ……..” As far as I can tell PAN only published the one edition in 1972 which is unusal for a Buck title,

Recently Jules Burt has completed his reveiw of the later PAN Majors from M101 to M274 in one of his very informative videos.. To view it on YouTube click HERE and if you missed the previous one covering numbers M1 to M100 then click HERE,

Interestingly the covers for both the 1959 and 1969 edions of ‘Not As A Stranger‘ are by Hans Helweg.