Something most unexpected has happened. A ‘new’ second-hand bookshop, Southcart Books, has opened in our local town! I paid a visit and was really pleased to find four Ted Willis titles (the ones with the yellow name flash) in the ‘free to a good home’ box. I have found a few more PAN covers and put them on this page. There was an excellent selection of paperbacks but mostly a little newer than my date range but it won’t stop me visiting.
I intended to put this up on Frank Garvin Yerby’s birthday but I have only just managed to track down a couple of the covers I was missing. He was born in Augusta, Georgia and died in Madrid and was know as an African/American author who had 15(?) of his 33 titles published by PAN in the 70’s
I have put scans of most of these covers on this page in the order they were originally written. I have not been able to attribute any of the covers to specific artists although one or two I might hazard a guess but I won’t in case I pique ones who I have met. Artists are a sensitive lot and some even deny it’s their work when it has their signature on it!
There is still one PAN edition I’ve failed to track down, namely 0330 247743 “The Treasure of Pleasant Valley” from 1976. I found a couple of sellers claiming to have it but showing the Dell copy. When I asked them to check they both said they had too many titles to do it and then finished by saying “If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us” Now that’s what I call great customer service! I used World Cat and actually found our local library had a copy in their reserved stock. I requested it only to be told “it has gone missing”
I’ve heard from Nay in New Zealand who has a copy of the PAN paper sculpture book “The Railway Children“ with model and instruction sheet plus it is signed by Lionel Jeffries who directed the 1970 film. Shee is looking for around £45 to £50 with postage at about £8. If anyone is interested here email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Ralph 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 six 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.Not 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.
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.
Still 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.
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”