Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Francis King's Dust Jackets

Francis King died in 2011 after a long and prolific career as one of the UK's best twentieth century novelists. He was openly gay from the 1970s onwards and there are gay themes and characters throughout his novels. The Domestic Animal (1969), pictured below, even has the rather disingenuous blurb on the back, "... this is not merely another homosexual novel...". A number of his titles have now found a new life with the wonderful Valancourt Books in Richmond Virginia but many are still only to be found on the secondhand shelves.
Not only was King writing gay interest novels and stories, he was also writing right through the period that interests us most here on Front Free Endpaper when it comes to jacket design and so it is hardly a surprise to find his jackets making an appearance. Not all are credited but many are now scarce, including the Donovan Lloyd jacket, below, for King's first novel To The Dark Tower. Bigger names also illustrated his covers including Osbert Lancaster in very recognisable style providing a cover for the pseudonymous The Firewalkers and a detail from Duncan Grant used as a cover for A Domestic Animal.


Brian Busby said...

Wonderful covers, particularly The Man on the Rock. Knowing next to nothing about Francis King - he didn't have nearly the same profile in North America - I wasn't aware that he'd written a novel entitled An Air that Kills. Nine years later, Random House published a Margaret Millar novel with the very same title. I've always wondered why it was titled The Soft Talkers in the UK. I think I now have the answer.

jorel5 said...

I lived through the 70's, but I must have been under a rock to have missed these. Beautiful, evocative and daring.

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