A Frank Ford Gallery

Frank Wallis Ford (1906-1970). From “Woman’s Realm”, 19th September, 1970. Courtesy of the Ford family.

One of the most popular posts on the blog in recent years has been the one on the artist, illustrator, and cartoonist Frank Ford, published back in March 2018.  The suggestion has since been made (more than once) that a checklist of Ford’s known dust-jackets (and other book covers) might be a useful addition to the original post — so now, courtesy of the Ford collector Michael H., to whom I am much indebted (both for the list and for a number of the images) — here is an illustrated listing.

Ford is of course best-known to book-collectors for the sequence of jackets he provided for the novels of P. G. Wodehouse between 1946 and 1952 (all illustrated in the final gallery below) — and although there are similar clusters of Wodehouse jackets by single artists – a number by “Abbey” (one or other of the Van Abbé brothers) from the 1930s, four books in row between 1938 and 1940 by the gifted Ian Fenwick (tragically killed in action in France with the SAS in 1944), several by the German artist “Sax” (Rudolf Michael Sachs) from the 1950s, and a sustained group by Sir Osbert Lancaster from the 1960s and 1970s — it is Ford who has come to be seen as the archetypal Wodehouse artist, a fact tacitly acknowledged with the reprise of his 1950 design for Nothing Serious on the jacket of the Stephen Fry anthology of Wodehouse published as What Ho! in 2000. Interestingly, this seems to have been the only one of Ford’s Wodehouse designs also to be used on the American edition — his style was perhaps considered too “British” for the American market.

It would be interesting to know to what extent Wodehouse himself was influential in the choice of his jacket artists. It was perhaps a matter left mainly to his publishers, but he certainly took an interest and could make his feelings known — he once famously commented on the jacket supplied for Meet Mr Mulliner (1927): “God may have forgiven Herbert Jenkins Ltd. for the jacket of Meet Mr Mulliner, but I never shall”. On another occasion, he was more self-deprecating: “The best thing about Louder and Funnier is the jacket by Rex Whistler”, he wrote to a friend in 1932 (my thanks to Angus O’Neill for the latter reference). We have to believe that Ford met his very firm approval to have been invited to provide the jackets for nine Wodehouse books in a row, as well as fresh jackets for a number of reprints of earlier titles.

Ford’s other dust-jacket work was virtually all for the Jenkins stable of lesser-known authors — the crime-writer Leslie Cargill (1895-1964), and the lesser humourists: George Cecil Foster (1893-1975); “John Glyder”, i.e. Allen George Roper (1888-1957); the prolific and endlessly versatile Sydney Horler (1888-1954); John Aves Jowett (1921-1960), and “Peter Traill”, i.e. Guy Mainwaring Morton (1896-1968). I suppose it was partly a matter of marketing, a subliminal message that if you liked Wodehouse, you would probably like these other chaps too — and why not? They are all authors still capable of raising a modest smile, and in these trying times that is something to be unreservedly thankful for. And as an evocation of the mores of forgotten times and a world of innocence now lost, they are perfect in their quiet way.

Below is a complete listing of the Ford jackets and covers as far as is known — but these things are always provisional.  There is a query over one title: Ford certainly provided the illustrations for Alec Waugh’s 1937 collection of short stories, but whether he also worked on the dust-jacket is uncertain. Someone, somewhere, must surely have a copy in a jacket to settle the question. Do please get in touch if you have. And if anyone has additional titles or illustrations to add (or even just better images of those already here) – then I would be delighted to hear of them.

FRANK FORD DUST-JACKETS AND BOOK-COVERS

LESLIE CARGILL

Matrimony Most Murderous. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.

DWIGHT FISKE

Why Should Penguins Fly?  London: Robert Hale, 1937.

FRANK FORD

You Needn’t Laugh. London: Methuen & Co., 1935.

FRANK & GEOFFREY FORD

Digby’s Holiday.  London: Shaw’s Children’s Books, 1951.

  • LESLIE CARGILL Matrimony Most Murderous. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.
  • DWIGHT FISKE Why Should Penguins Fly? London: Robert Hale, 1937.
  • FRANK FORD You Needn’t Laugh. London: Methuen & Co., 1935.
  • FRANK & GEOFFREY FORD Digby’s Holiday. London: Shaw’s Children's Books, 1951.

GEORGE C. FOSTER

Peace Among the Pelicans.   London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.

Hooked on the Line.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.

The Professor’s Whiskers.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.

Come as You Are.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1952.

JOHN GLYDER

Rude Awakening.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1948.

Flaming June.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.

April’s Fool.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.

SYDNEY HORLER

Man Alive.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1947.

The Man with Three Wives.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1947.

Haloes for Hire.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1948.

The Beacon Light.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.

Wedding Bells.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.

Girl Trouble.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.

  • Sydney Horler, Man Alive
  • Sydney Horler, The Man with Three Wives
  • Sydney Horler, Haloes for Hire
  • Sydney Horler, Beacon Light
  • Sydney Horler, Wedding Bells
  • Sydney Horler, Girl Trouble

JOHN JOWETT

Travellers’ Joy.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.

The Prince of Suavia.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1954.

PETER TRAILL

Mutation Mink.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.

French Dressing.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.

ALEC WAUGH

??? Eight Short Stories.  London: Cassell & Co., 1937. (No image).

P. G. WODEHOUSE

Money in the Bank.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1946.

Joy in the Morning.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1947.

Full Moon.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1947.

Spring Fever.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1948.

Uncle Dynamite.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1948.

The Mating Season.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1949.

Piccadilly Jim.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950? (reprint.)  

Nothing Serious.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950.

Nothing Serious.  New York: Doubleday & Co., 1951.  

The Old Reliable.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.

The Adventures of Sally.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951? (reprint). 

Barmy in Wonderland.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1952.

Doctor Sally.  London: Herbert Jenkins, 1952 (reprint).

What Ho! The Best of P. G. Wodehouse.  London: Hutchinson, 2000.

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