Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

IMGOf the early FS books this is one of my favorites. The juxtaposition between good and evil is captured in the minimalist illustrations.

The Book

Published in 1948, this was the 12th book. It was designed by Charles Ede and printed by Mackay. The black/gold theme which starts on the dustjacket continues throughout. The front board has the DJ image reversed in a striking impressed version.

 

 

IMG_0014The  Story

There is the premise that we each have good and evil within ourselves, Dr Jekyll undertakes a series of experiments which separates these qualities into different physical entities.

The story is well known, and is summarised here

The Illustrator

This is the first book that Mervyn Peake illustrated for the Folio Society. Droll Stories, published in 1961 was the only other book he illustrated for the Society. He was perhaps best known as the writer of The Gormenghast Trilogy, which the Society published in 1992.

The Illustrations

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The illustrations were printed in black and yellow from relief blocks.

Forthcoming books will include The Golem, a recent publication and also The Earliest Chemical Industry which is the last of the 1948 books. There were 9 books published in 1949 so that will be my 2012 project.

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Cover Her Face

IMGThis is the first of the Adam Dalgliesh crime novels written by PD James. It was originally published in 1962 by Faber and Faber.

The Book

Set in Bembo, printed on Abbey Wove paper at Vicenza, Italy. Bound in cloth with a design by the illustrator. 224 pages with 7 colour illustrations.

The Story

This is a murder mystery set in the 1950s in a rural village outside London. I will be going through the entire plot so read no further if you intend to read the book and be kept in suspense!

Sally, an unmarried mother, is given a position as a live in domestic servant at Martingale, the home of the  Maxie family. The head of the family is Simon Maxie who is bedridden and be nursed by his wife Eleanor and Martha, the housekeeper. Simon and Eleanor’s widowed daughter Deborah also lives there, and their son, Stephen a trainee surgeon visits often from London. A family friend, Catherine Bowers, is a frequent visitor, and imagines herself as becoming married to Stephen.

The annual church fete brings Stephen, Catherine and Felix, a friend of Deborah, together at the family home for the weekend.

While the family is having the the evening meal after the fete, Sally announces that Stephen has asked her to marry him. Eleanor, Catherine and Deborah are aghast.

The next morning Martha cannot get any response from Sally, late for domestic duties, when she knocks on her locked door. Eventually Stephen and Felix get into the room by fetching and climbing a ladder.  Sally is discovered dead in bed with evidence that she has been strangled.

Naturally the police are called and Adam Dalgleish comes from London to lead the investigation. The remainder of the book takes us through statements of the various characters, Sally’s background, and puts us on a few false trails.

It turns out that Sally was an orphan and was brought up by her uncle and aunt. Sally was intelligent but also a manipulative schemeer. She had secretly married prior to coming to Martingale. Her husband was working in Venezuela and they corresponded using Derek Pullen,one of the young men of the village, as an intermediary. She had asked her estranged uncle for money and he had come to meet her on the day of the fete. He agreed to bring her the money that night. Late that night he entered  the house. He went into her room and found her dead in bed. Hearing footsteps in the corridor outside he bolted the door, and made his exit through the window, but injuried himself climbing down a drainpipe. He made his way home, but altered the clocks so his wife thought that he had returned around midnight rather than two hours later.

Martha had been secretly lacing Sally’s evening hot drink with sedatives to cause her to be late to arise in the morning, hoping that this would get her dismissed for tardiness. When she learnt that Sally had been found dead she feared that she had killed her and hid the bottle of sedatives which the Police later found.

During the final meeting with Dalgleish it becomes apparent that each of the characters has suspected each other in some sense, but as the meeting goes on, each are eliminated as the murderer. That is until Eleanor states that she is the one who strangled Sally. She did this in a fit of rage when she went to talk to Sally in her room the night of the murder. Sally had taunted her and told her that she was expecting Stephen’s baby. She had decided to not admit her guilt until her husband had died as she had promised him that she would look after him until that time. His death released her from that bond.

Here’s another plot summary. It’s always a little bit interesting to compare them.

This is PD James first novel, and introduces Adam Dalgleish to her readers. Although it is about the crime and its solution, it’s also about trust and suspicion between close friends and family.

The Author

PD James  (born 1920) is a prolific writer, best known for the Dalgleish crime novels. She has had a long writing career, and remains active. This is a recent interview which I found interesting.

The Illustrator and Illustrations

Jonathan Buton illustrated this book and the Douglas Adams’ books for the Folio Society. This is his website and here are the illustrations for the text and a blog about the background to the illustrations.

I do like the illustrations. Burton has read and understood the text and picked out some key moments. There is the sly impertinent look from Sally to Alice Liddel at the dinner with which the novel begins, the scene at the church fete where Sally wears an identical dress to Deborah, the overhead view of the body and the investigators (a wonderful perspective), then a couple of illustrations linking the gloved hand to Sally’s uncle, Mr Proctor..a visual clue that adds to the text, an illustration with Sally and the cup of cocoa and then the final image where Dalgliesh revels the process of his investigation.

When thinking through the plot I would have liked to see an illustration of the moment when Sally tells the guests at the dinner table that Stephen has asked her to marry him, and maybe one at the graveside as Sally is buried with Mrs Proctor in the backgound and the group dynamics of the principal characters gathered together.

Future Posts

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde will definitely be next, and then The Earliest Chemical Industry will finish off the 1948 books. Cover Her Face was published in 1962, and by the end of that year, since inception, the Folio Society had published around 175 books. By now there are well over 1600 books. It would be an impossible task to cover them all. I will be lucky to realise my aim, which was to obtain and read the first 100.

 

 

 

The Odyssey

IMG_0001One of the foundation stones of literature, The Odyssey was published in 1948, and is the 11th publication from The Society.

It is a selection from the epic. Over the years the society has published this work in other editions and translations. This particular edition is in series with The Iliad (item 26)  which was published in 1950.

The Book

Printed by Waterlow and Sons with engravings reproduced in  collotype by Van Leer of Amsterdam. The illustrated pages are thicker than the textual pages, which has also been noted in other books where Van Leer were involved, for instance the 1949 edition of Jorrocks Jaunts and Jollities.

The Poet

Homer is traditionally regarded as the creator of the The Iliad and The Odyssey. When and whether he existed is another matter.

The Translator

F.L. Lucas was a Cambridge academic. He was also a teacher, writer, critic, and essayist and led a most interesting life.

The Illustrator

John Buckland-Wright originally provided these copper engravings for another publisher (possibly the Golden Cockrel Press), but that book was never published and the Folio Society acquired them. Buckland-Wright was a prolific illustrator in a variety of media

A synopsis of his life and career and copies of many of his works is here . It’s well worth a read.

Criticism

The Odyssey is over 2000 years old, and has been studied and analysed to death. I doubt that I can bring any new insights.

The Illustrations

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was the next book published, illustrated by Mervyn Peake. I’m looking forward to reading it and posting some of the illustrations. However it may not be the next book in the blog as I am reading Cover Your Face at present, and will probably make that the next post.

Rupert Brooke’s Poems

IMGThe Book

At this stage I do not have the 1948 1st edition, I have the 1955 edition (Item 86.5 in Folio 60). The 1948 edition is Item 9. The differences between the two editions seem to be related to the typeface and the dustjacket. Indeed the 1955 edition is labelled as 1948, but has an italic typeface in the text, whereas the original did not.

According to Folio 60 there was 2nd impression of the 1948 original in 1950, and several other impressions of the 1955 edition.

My copy is set in Bembo italic and printed and bound by Mackays at Chatham.

The Poems

Since starting on this project I’ve learnt that I cannot read poems one after another!

Of the early poems I’ve read much seems to be about the ecstacy and transience of love.

I did like one or two of the poems, and I’m sure there are others I’d appreciate, but there was a lot of dross there as well.

The Poet

Rupert Brooke was born in 1888 and died in 1915 during WW1 transport. It would seem that he would attract the attention of both men and women during his short life. We will never know how much the poetry would have matured had he lived longer.

The Illustrator

John Buckland-Wright was a New Zealand born illustrator. The illustrations in this book are produced by the scraper-board technique. Charles Ede said, in Folio 21, that the result was “one of the artist’s less happy efforts”.

I quite like the illustrations. What do you think?

JBW also did the illustrations for The Odyssey (book 11), which were copper engraved. That book is coming up soon.

Illustrations and some text

IMG_0001The frontispiece

I will let the other illustrations speak for themselves.

I think that these are quite inspired illustrations, particularly “The Fish”, “War” and “The Dance”

Next time

The Odyssey  is next on the list in the first 100 stream, but I’m also reading Cover Your Face, which is a more recent book.