Sunday, 8 April 2018

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

A bug's life... photo by Tim Mainstone

Out very soon from the Mainstone Press, 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' will take armchair travellers on an extraordinary journey. Edward Bawden grew up wanting to illustrate books, and for sixty years or more he did just that, not only creating designs for dozens of book jackets but also providing sets of illustrations for a remarkable array of titles. Writing the captions for this encyclopaedic volume has been a fascinating (if occasionally Herculean) task. Bawden illustrated literary classics, family favourites and a host of books that I'd never heard of before.

Being Bawden, he treated every job - whether for a railway company or a major international publisher - with the same care and consideration. He spent far too long on his designs for them to be commercially lucrative, but then he was only partly motivated by financial necessity. Chiefly he did this work because he loved it. He was a problem solver and an inventor, and he approached each project with relish. His research was always impeccable, and his designs both novel and apt.

One or two of the books are back in print these days. Some are easily bought. A few of the rarer titles will be on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery next month. In the meantime, 'Are You Sitting Comfortably? The Book Jackets of Edward Bawden' will be available within a matter of days...