Monday, May 18, 2015

The Darkwater Hall Mystery

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis' first novel, was published in 1954 and is one of Edward Gorey's earliest book cover designs. Lucky Jim is one of the book cover designs featured in Edward Gorey: His Book Cover Art and Design (see my post from April 17, 2015).

Though Mr. Amis (1922 - 1995) would go on to publish more than 20 novels, six volumes of poetry, numerous short stories, scripts, and literary criticism, Edward Gorey would only provide an illustration for one other work by the author. The Darkwater Hall Mystery first appeared in May 1978 in Playboy Magazine. An expanded version of the short story - without Mr. Gorey's illustration - was published in 1978 as a limited edition book (165 numbered copies). The Darkwater Hall Mystery is a pastiche of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and is written as an account by Dr. John Watson. In the late 1960's, Amis had also written several pieces taking inspiration from Ian Flemming's James Bond novels.

Edward Gorey's three quarter page color illustration for this story is a wonderfully atmospheric image of a man with a gun standing behind a tree, with Darkwater Hall looming ominously in the distance. The artwork is meticulously crosshatched to evoke a sense of brooding menace. This illustration perfectly demonstrates the time and painstaking care Mr. Gorey would expend on an illustration which was intended to be used only once in a periodical.


Jean said...

I have that Lucky Jim right now! I checked it out of my library a couple of weeks ago.

mike zim said...

Lovely! I have that book, but had never noticed the cover art, in my obtuseness.

Thank you.
Lucky Mike