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The Illustrated Dust Jacket: 1920-1970

Martin Salisbury


The history of the illustrated book jacket, tracing its development across the 20th century through some of the most outstanding designs of the era

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The middle decades of the twentieth century saw an extraordinary flourishing of the illustrated, pictorial dust jacket. From the 1920s, as the potential for the book’s protective wrapping to be used for promotion and enticement became clear, artists and illustrators on both sides of the Atlantic applied their talents to this particular art form. Rising to the wide-ranging challenges posed by format and subject matter, leading artists and illustrators, including John Piper, Edward Bawden and John Minton in the UK and Ben Shahn, Edward Gorey and George Salter in the USA, brought their unique personal vision to bear on the world of books. Many of their designs reflect the changing visual styles and motifs of the period, including Bloomsbury, Art Deco, Modernism, postwar neo-romanticism and the Kitchen Sink School.

Martin Salisbury has selected over fifty of the artists and illustrators who were active in the period 1920–1970, mostly in the UK and USA, and discusses their life and work. A selection of dust jackets for each artist reveals how far the book as an artefact had travelled from the days of the plain wrapper in the nineteenth century.

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'The richest feast for the eye, garnished with sharp learning'
John Sutherland, The Spectator

'Sumptuous … drips with period flavour and shows how false the distinction between fine and applied art can be'
Michael Prodger, New Statesman

'Gorgeous … dust jackets are an underrated art'
The Oldie

'The dust jacket doffed and donned in the 20th century … There is a glorious cast of subjects ripe for rediscovery'
The Art Newspaper

'A delightful, deeply learned anthology'
Literary Review

'Irresistibly nostalgic'

'A lovely, slightly foxed thing, perfect for Boxing Day'
Sunday Herald

'A beautiful book, about beautiful books'
Caught by the River


'A sheer delight'
Yorkshire Post

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 30.0 x 21.0 cm

Extent: 200 pp

Illustrations: 371

Publication date: 5 October 2017

ISBN: 9780500519134

Contents List

Introduction • Profiles of over 50 illustrators

About the Author

Martin Salisbury is Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art in Anglia Ruskin University. He trained as an illustrator at art school in the 1970s before working as an artist, illustrator, lecturer and writer. He is the author of a number of books on the practice and theory of illustration, which have been published in numerous languages around the world.

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