Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Swallows and Amazons

I'm not big on boating and I've never had much of an urge to read any of these children's adventure stories, although I confess I am intrigued to learn that their author, Arthur Ransome, may have been a Soviet spy. One of these days I really should at least give the first one a shot. I do love these covers though. Ransome himself was responsible for both the jackets and their interior art; some of the books say "with help from Miss Nancy Blackett," but that's the author's little joke, as "Nancy Blackett" is in fact one of the characters in the series. (Ransome also named a yacht after her.)

The Godine editions in the US, which used to be the only ones I had seen, employ different cover art, very handsome in its own way, but the original hardcover jackets are still available in the UK; the full set can be seen [link no longer active] on the website of the Arthur Ransome Society. Some of the colors are more subtle on my copies, which are from the 1950s, by which time the books had already been reprinted dozens of times.

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