Last month I posted a page on Mary Stewart’s 1961 novel The Ivy Tree and hosted a guest review of the book by Annabel Frazer. This post shows some art from a magazine and the Reader’s Digest – you might also like to look at this previous post on The Ivy Tree book covers. I began this post as a general ‘more about…’ post but I am splitting it into two so that anyone can read this part without being exposed to the major spoilers that will be a feature of the second part.
The Ivy Tree was serialised in Woman’s Journal, a British magazine published monthly by Fleetway Publications, as ‘The Master of Whitescar’. The story ran for four months from June to September 1961, with this wonderfully moody illustration appearing in the August edition of the magazine. I’m sorry to say I don’t know who the illustrator is but I think we can safely assume that the image refers to the aftermath of Julie’s walk on the night of Matthew Winslow’s birthday. Do the characters look anything like you would expect them to? It seems to me that, very often, illustrators were not given even basic information on characters, such as their hair colour.
The Reader’s Digest Association also featured an abridged version of The Ivy Tree, in 1963. I am no fan of abridged books but they do sometimes include a very informative section on the featured authors. Unfortunately, the author information here does not tell us anything new about Mary Stewart: it seems to cover similar ground as, for example, Roy Newquist’s interview of her for Counterpoint. Mary Stewart seems to have guarded her privacy pretty well and to have disclosed similar, limited information about herself in the interviews that she allowed. Still, we are told that
She is, like her novels, attractive, amusing and forthright in her views. She holds very definite opinions on the great writers of the past and on her own contemporaries, and for many years she lectured undergraduates on “The Novel”. I suspect that her lectures were anything but dryly academic, for the point that she would emphasize was that a novel must tell a story.
The Reader’s Digest edition also contains several evocative illustrations. I have included two of them here: the top one is from the opening scene at Hadrian’s Wall, and the lower one is set on the same fateful evening as the magazine image above. The illustrator is Walter Wyles, and you can read more about him in this interesting blog post, which also links to a flickr gallery showcasing some of his work.
For me, book covers and illustrations are a valuable ‘added extra’ to the enjoyment I gain from Mary Stewart novels. Do you feel the same? Do you have a favourite illustrator? I’d love to hear your views.