Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Dust-Wrapper for David Lindsay's Devil's Tor

The first edition of David Lindsay's Devil's Tor, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons of London in April 1932, has an elegant dust-wrapper.  The central illustration is uncredited, but one of the early newspaper reviews of the book reproduces it with a caption that describes it as "A Woodcut for Devil's Tor by William Kermode."

The illustration is probably not a woodcut, but rather art done on scraper board, which was a specialty of Kermode's, so much so that he wrote a book about it, Drawing on Scraper Board for Beginners (1936).

William Kermode was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1895.  He came to England before World War I and joined the British Army (he would also serve in W.W. II.) In the mid to late 1920s he studied at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art. He made a series of vibrant linocuts of his own war experiences, for which Henry Williamson wrote the accompanying text. The resulting book, The Patriot's Progress, appeared in 1930.  Kermode therafter provided illustrations for many magazines, books, dust-wrappers, etc. He contributed a frontispiece to Sylvia Townsend Warner's A Moral Ending and Other Stories (1931). Kermode died in 1959.

A close-up of the vignette for Devil's Tor


  1. I'm glad we now have a name for the DT cover artist! I have been wondering whether Kermode was in any way inspired by the work of P. G. Stevens, who did the woodcuts in William Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor (1912). Stevens's depiction of Devil's Tor is much less dramatic than Kermode's however. Certain similarities in style.

    1. Thanks, Sean. Good to hear from you. I'll have a look for the William Crossing book.

  2. Great article Doug, sadly, one of the Lindsay books I haven't read yet.

  3. Doug, also Ray Russell - This 1932 dust-jacket is very reminiscent of most Tartarus books. Which is all to the good! Whosoever may not have read DT yet, go ahead and treat yourself. It is a rich and decadent read. Thomas Kent Miller