A Cover That Never Was

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 12.02.55.png

For various reasons I just went through my files about the book 1956 and All That  and came across this oddity. I don't think Routledge were sure how to market the book. The first cover they designed for it (left) played on the book's interest in the emotional register of the pre-Osborne West End and they used this rather lovely photograph of Peggy Ashcroft and Kenneth More in the original West End production of The Deep Blue Sea in 1952. It looks like a work of romantic fiction.

On reflection, I wonder if the book would have had half the impact it has had with that cover. This looks like a chintzy and old-fashioned book, celebrating an old-fashioned culture. In fact, I think, the book felt very current in 1999 because of its theoretical allegiances, its interest in queer experience, and its interest in rethinking the significance of the Royal Court. The cover we eventually got is a strangely brilliant photograph by Cecil Beaton showing Noel Coward and two leading ladies, from behind, bowing in front of an empty audience, an image that plays with some of the paradoxes of theatre and far better sets up the tone of the book.