25 May 2020

Covering Phyllis Brett Young's The Ravine

I've been receiving compliments about the cover of the new Ricochet Books reissue of Phyllis Brett Young's The Ravine. Praise properly belongs to J.W. Stewart and an unknown artist.

The Ricochet series has always featured artwork from vintage covers. With The Ravine, there were several to chose from. The earliest, W.H. Allen's 1962 first edition, bought sight unseen from an Australian bookseller, was the worst. This surprised me because the cover of Young's Undine (1964), also published by W.H. Allen, ranks as an all-time favourite.

Well before the decision about the cover was made, I invited Amy Lavender Harris to write the introduction. By chance, she mentioned that she had a copy of the 1962 Longmans first Canadian edition. I'd never seen a copy. Amy has kindly shared this image:

Like the W.H. Allen, I never considered Longmans Canada's cover a contender, though I was tempted by Mein Mörder kommt um 8, the 1966 German translation.

The cover of Assault, the tie-in to the 1971 screen adaptation, was not considered.

The cover I most favoured was the first paperback edition, published in 1964 by Pan. The problem was that we had no copy and not one was listed for sale online (which is still the case). All we had to go by was a small image of a faded, battered, and stained copy.

J.W. Stewart not only restored the image, he replaced "Kendal Young" with the author's real name; something we and the estate preferred.

The question remains as to the identity of the original artist. My money is on Pat Owens. I think that's his signature in the bottom right hand corner.

The Ravine is certainly similar in style to some of the covers Owen is known to have done for for Pan, most strikingly Charity Blackstock's The Woman in the Woods (1961) and Morris West's Daughter of Silence (1963).

Sadly, they don't make 'em like that anymore.

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1 comment:

  1. Hmm... Indeed. The Pan Title cartouche is pretty unmistakable.