Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sydney Stanley Illustrates Algernon Blackwood

I'm aware that I put up this post at my peril! Back in 2008 I posted a few illustrations from the Collins Illustrated Classic The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (illustrated by Helen Monro) and ever since I have been inundated by emails from people asking me about this or that title in a Collins pocket edition that they have. I don't mind particularly except, as you'll see if you click on the link above I was forced back into type in 2010 to put down all I know about the series - which is not much.

So, in the process of cataloguing a large collection of supernatural fiction I have come across this charming book of tales by Algernon Blackwood in a Collins pocket edition: The Willows and Other Queer Tales, published about 1932. It contains all the stories from an earlier collection, Ancient Sorceries and Other Tales (also published by Collins but a few years earlier in 1927) with a good number of additions. What distinguishes the book though, are the illustrations by someone called Stanley Sydney. They are reproduced in sepia tones and, strange though it might seem, they remind me a little of early Disney artwork for things like Fantasia and Snow White. I can find a few other books illustrated by Stanley but no other information about him.

[For the record: I know nothing more about the bibliography of Collins pocket editions, illustrated or not, then I have already posted on the blog - sorry!]

UPDATE: In the course of a little more research I came across this copy of Blackwood's 1930s book Shocks in its uber-rare jacket. Judging by the similarities between the leaping cat figure in particular and the images above, I'd say it was a safe bet that this jacket is also by Stanley. The book is for sale from Peter Harrington at Abebooks.

UPDATE: (22.3.2013). Peter Harrington kindly sent this close up photo of the signature on the Shocks jacket via Twitter and, as they remark, it's hard to see Sidney Stanley. On the other side, however, Stanley did sign in neat block capitals which these appear to be. More research is indicated...

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