I was really sad to receive an email from Ben Sharp last Friday to let me know his father, George Sharp, had passed away in August. I thought of artist George as a friend and I should have suspected something was not right when I didn’t get replies to my emails of scans of his covers I had found. He’d always come back with comments such as who posed, that one was turned upside down etc. Not only was he a fantastic artist but from 1972 to 1995 he served as Chairman of The English Sangha Trust and in late 1976 he initiated the invitation to Ajahn Chah to come to England and establish the first monastery in the West in the tradition of the Forest Sangha. This was Amaravati, a Theravada Buddhist monastery situated at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in south-east England. The funeral for George took place there on the 8th September and I have watched it online, it is a serenely moving ceremony. George would have been 90 this week. R.I.P. George
Lindsay Brown (now MaCleod) was only twelve when she her first novel ‘The Treasure of Dubarry Castle published by Hale in hardback in 1978 and and two years later in paperback by PAN as a Piccolo. It was the same with her second novel ‘The Secret of the Silver Lockets’ published by Hale in 1980 and Piccolo in 1982. I was particularly pleased to find the latter was one of the many paperbacks I got Val Biro to sign when I went down to visit him in Bosham. Val illustrated the pages inside ‘Treasure’ but Chris Molan painted both covers. I emailed Chris and was really pleased when she replied to say “Hello Tim, Yes I am the artist ,How delightful to see those paperback covers again and know that they are valued. Yes, the eighties and nineties were a golden age for ‘hand’ generated artwork. I absolutely loved it. It’s a while ago but I may be able to answer some specific questions. I freelanced for many publishers between 1976- 2010.and the turnover, as you may imagine, was huge. Scanning through those covers you sent, yes the top one, ‘The Treasure of Dubarry Castle’ was a favourite, and I have the artwork here. Regarding writers, you are right and it was always a thrill – and so much easier – to illustrate for fine writers (like the ones you show) but always much more difficult to whip up something enticing to sell a mediocre story! I used to belong to The Association of Illustrators, where we aired our griefs about not being able to reclaim artwork from companies like OUP, for whom we all jumped through deadline hoops. For 30 years I also taught young students on the Illustration degree course at UWE, and on their behalf- and for a few thousand others – a hearty ‘Well Done’ to you for making that journey! She very kindly sent me the photo of her holding the original artwork. Thank you Chris and I will make a page showing more of your covers in a future blog.
Eric M. in the States emailed to say he is after a 1949 copy of ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ by John Buchan. Unfortunately I only have the one copy but if any one does have a spare pleased email or leave a comment and I’ll let him know. This prompted me to rescan and add to the pages for the editionsl Number 14., Number G218 and Number X696. I’ll try and get the later editions scanned this week.