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.