Amazing Art

First, from Holly comes this link to Leif Peng’s Today’s Inspiration blog,  and an absolutely amazing visual collection of Francis Marshall’s covers for Barbara Cartland’s novels. Holy smoke.

“For one thing, all the girls have ‘manga eyes’, which is a signature mark of Barbara Cartland heroines, and makes them more unreal. For another, they´re all period costumes, and his background in fashion really shines through here. He is brilliant with the clothes, I find.”

Seriously, take a few minutes and check that out. Holy smoke, is that some fascinating art. I love some of the older covers – not just the neon pink gladiators and the mullets of the 70s and 80s but the retro art on covers like these, too. Do you have favorite old covers? Mullets included?



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  1. 1
    Tina C. says:

    My only exposure to Cartland was from my stepmother’s hardcover books (she has them all, I think).  They were all bound in black leather with gold foil lettering and nary an illustration in sight.  After reading a couple of them, I quickly discovered that I didn’t like them at all and never picked up another one.  However, seeing those covers, I can see grabbing up the paperbacks just for the artwork.  Those are wonderfully evocative and absolutely gorgeous!

  2. 2
    Ros says:

    Did you click through to this link too: ?  Lots more lovely pics to enjoy with a side helping of nostalgia.  Barbara Cartland’s books were my guilty pleasure throughout my teenage years, until finally her terrible punctuation got to me and I couldn’t bear to read another one.

  3. 3

    Those are fabulous! My only exposure to Cartland has until now has been in references made by Absolutely Fabulous and French and Saunders, and in those contexts, I assumed she was a feminist writer, in the vein of Steinem! I love those covers, especially The Power and the Prince and Desire of the Heart—I have a mysterious urge to go watch My Fair Lady, now…

  4. 4

    Plus, after only a couple months in the erotica business, I’m pretty sure I’ve got naked torsos burned permanently onto my retinas. Good to be reminded what men look like with their clothes on.

  5. 5
    joanneL says:

    My favorite covers of all time were done by the artist named Pino. He did the fabulous step-back covers for the early historical romances written by Amanda Quick and thousands of other covers for romance books.

    He had gorgeous heroes and heroines and the details in those step-back covers told the story better than the cover blurbs.

  6. 6
    Jill Myles says:

    I absolutely love Cartland’s covers! And they are so terribly hard to find scans of, so THANK YOU for posting this! I am bookmarking both sites because wow. Love those.

    (I admit I go through phases where I glom Cartland’s books over and over again. No shame. No shame.)

  7. 7
    Deb says:

    Love the covers—except Curse of the Clan, which has ugly clashing colors and a woman who looks like she stepped out of a Carol Burnett sketch circa 1972.

    Also, regarding the heroines’ eyes—I think the eyes on these covers are more likely to reflect the popularity of the “Keene” eyes (huge and almond-shaped) of the late 1960s & early 1970s rather than manga.  I’m not very knowledgeable of manga/anime and when it first became popular (particularly in the west), but the big-eyed “Keene” waifs were on everything from coasters to diaries during the time most of these covers were created.

  8. 8
    Brooks*belle says:

    Oh I’m smitten with the covers: “Imperial Splendour” and “The Power and the Prince.”  Makes me want to read those books, which of course, is what a good cover should do.

  9. 9
    Brooks*belle says:

    Oh and the cover I could NOT stop looking at when I was 13 or 14 was this book:  That image is burned in my brain and a teeny little part of me holds this particular cover as my standard of beauty.

    I wanted to BE Cassie.  I wanted to look like her, act like her, wear what she wore—it was an obsession! LOL

    And I’m ashamed to say, I borrowed it from my teacher’s library and I don’t think I ever returned it.  Oops!  Think he still misses it 23+ years later?

  10. 10

    Heh, I remember being enthralled by the paperback cover of my tenth grade copy of Lord of the Flies, though I didn’t want to be Ralph, particularly.

  11. 11

    Although I DID want to be Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins with all my heart!

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    I started collecting these books for the beautiful covers about 8 years ago.  At this point I have about 5 boxes of them!  Even in my recent move where I truly pared down my whole life to about 25 boxes, I kept them.  I seriously considered just removing and keeping the covers for space reasons, but ultimately I couldn’t stomach it.  I do use them for little projects though, greeting cards, that kind of thing.  I also have a few of my very favorites framed in mounted hat rack that sits right in my entryway.  The really embarrassing part is that I have read them ALL.  In general, they are dreadful, in a unique Barbara Cartland way, but believe it or not, there are a few gems.  You just have to imagine her reclining on a divan with some heinous dog, smoking from a cigarette holder, wearing fur & jewels, and dictating book after book to a team of harassed secretaries.  Pour yourself a cocktail & give yourself an hour & you will have been officially Barbara Cartland’d.

  13. 13
    Annmarie says:

    I read Cartland as a tween.  LOVED those covers!  So romantic then and now.

  14. 14
    MarieC says:

    I love Barbara Cartland books!  I have a collection of them that I pull out to read every now and then. 

    Funny, I usually remember the stories by the covers, why I don’t know.

  15. 15
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    I remember many of these covers from the Bantam editions in the 1970’s—always loved their sketchy, impressionistic feel and the fact that they were unlike anything else out there.  You really could ID a new Cartland from across the bookstore just by the cover art.  And as someone else pointed out, it’s pretty unusual now to see the hero and heroine fully clothed on a cover, especially with such attention to historical accuracy as Marshall had.

  16. 16
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Did you click through to this link too: ?  Lots more lovely pics to enjoy with a side helping of nostalgia.

    Very nice!  I especially like “Sweet Enchantress” as it’s so unusual to find a Marshall cover with a couple in contemporary dress.

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