I recently visited a wonderful Stanley Kubrick exhibition in Rome and was reminded of a small piece of my own original Kubrick memorabilia, this 1962 movie tie-in paperback edition of one of my absolute favourite novels – Vladamir Nabokov‘s Lolita. First reissued by Corgi in 1961, this is the fourth 1962 reprint and although hardly a rare item, is nevertheless an interesting piece of both film and book memorabilia.
Some of my favourite historic book jackets are those designed by Vanessa Bell for the Hogarth Press, and in particular, for the books written by her sister, Virginia Woolf. Vanessa Bell, together with her husband Clive Bell, painter Duncan Grant as well as Virginia and Leonard Woolf, belonged to the group of artists and writers known as the Bloomsbury Group, although she has achieved a certain measure of independent success as attested by her paintings which hang in the Tate Britain Gallery. Recent cinema goers may remember Miranda Richardson’s excellent portrayal of her in The Hours, opposite Nicole Kidman’s Virginia Woolf, an Oscar-clinching performance in the category of Best Actress Wearing a False Nose.
This dust jacket from A Haunted House, a posthumously published collection of short stories by Virginia Woolf, is from a 1943 first edition in War Economy Standard (using cheaper paper etc. to save the country’s resources) and includes a fascinating back inner flap advertising the BBC radio broadcasts which transmitted news bulletins and Morse coded news across Europe during the Second World War.
Monkey is the title of Arthur Waley’s popular 1942 abridged translation of the traditional Chinese folk tale Journey to the West which was first published during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century and is now ascribed to the scholar Wu Cheng-en. It actually translates only thirty of the hundred chapters of the original tale.
This 1944 War Economy Standard edition was the fourth impression of the book and features a very beautiful dust jacket design by Bloomsbury Group painter Duncan Grant.
Monkey: Journey to the West has recently been adapted for the stage in the form of a circus-opera by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, the co-creators of the virtual pop band Gorillaz, and Chen Shi-zheng.