The Sad Variety by Nicholas Blake; original artwork

Nicholas Blake was the name under which the poet (and eventual Poet Laureate) Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972) wrote detective novels. He enjoyed much success in his day, creating a notable amateur sleuth in Nigel Strangeways, who was in part based on W.H. Auden and who appears in perhaps the best Blake book, The Beast Must Die, which was filmed by Chabrol. Blake’s debut, A Question of Proof, appeared in 1935 and made an immediate impact. He continued writing crime fiction for more than thirty years, but although his final novel, The Private Wound, has great power, his work in the later stages of his career did not match his earlier achievements and this may help to explain why many of his novels have been out of print for years.

This is an original piece of cover artwork for the Collins Crime Club first edition, on white board. The panel lettering looks to be inked on. The spine lettering and Crime Club motifs have been mounted on and the artist is unidentified. The margins of the white card include instructions to the printer, and there is a pink slip on the verso of the card again bearing printing instructions. Also included is a small colour sampler showing three possible colours for the finished wrapper.