Tag Archives: Lady Oracle

Atwood Covers Here and Elsewhere, Continued

My last post was about the covers of Margaret Atwood’s books in the Canada. Now I’d like to turn to the cover designs of her books in the US and the UK. Like McClelland, Atwood’s American publisher, Anchor, also created a consistent template (black strip with authors name and colored strip with novel’s title at the bottom, with the image, usually a collage, taking about two-thirds of the space, at the top). I can’t say they’re as bad as the old Canadian covers, but then they’re not terribly attractive either. There are a few exceptions, however: maybe because they’re the last books of fiction she published, The Blind Assassin, Moral Disorder, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood have their own individual cover designs (I haven’t included them here). 

In the UK, Atwood’s books are divided between two publishers. Vintage, a publishing house renowned for its stunning cover work, owns the rights for Bodily HarmLife Before ManBluebeard’s EggDancing Girls, and The Handmaid’s Tale. They’ve created a consistent templates for their catalogue of Atwood paperbacks. The other covers feature figures cut out in paper, which are a little bit strange but certainly intriguing. I love the typography they use to write Atwood’s name, with the leafy double-Os.

The exception in the Vintage Atwood catalogue is The Handmaid’s Tale, for which they have no less than four different paperback covers: one as part of their normal Atwood series, one for their Vintage Classics series, on in thier Vintage Future Classics, as well as a special edition for the 21st anniversary of the publishing house. 

Virago, which has the publishing rights for many more of Atwood’s books in the UK, like The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace, Cat’s Eye, The Rober Bride, and so on, commissioned talented graphic designer Nathan Burton to create the covers for their collection of Atwoods. The result is stunning, and the series remains one of my favourite cover designs ever. These have all been showcased on the Caustic Cover Critic’s blog before, I put a few just to give you an idea. Aren’t they wonderful?

Atwood Covers Here and Elsewhere

This is the North American cover for Margaret Atwood's book on science-fiction, out in October. I'm not entirely sure what to think about this one; the angle in the writing at the top makes me a little dizzy.

When a writer has been productive over a large number of years and has reached a certain level of prominence, you’d think this author’s publishers would take the opportunity to create elegant, consistent designs in order to make the books stand out as a group. In the case of Margaret Atwood, the famous Canadian poet, novelist, inventor, and ecological activist, this opportunity was certainly there, although what her Canadian, American, and British publishers did with the designs of her books has not necessarily given the most fortunate results. 

Same book, different cover. The British cover design for In Other Worlds uses the same elements as the North American cover, but has fit them into the rest of their Atwood collection.

For one, Atwood’s Canadian publisher, McClelland, used to have horrendous covers for her novels, featuring sepia-toned, blurry images of naked women and odd collages. All the covers had the same, plain black border. I’ve put some bellow. Most, as you see, are not particularly attractive, some are interesting, others are plain ugly. 

More recently, McCelland have released new paperback Atwoods, with generally nicer monochrome images and more modern (although a tad redundant) font work. Although some of these new covers remain a little bit unremarkable, they’re all a great improvement on the old ones, and some of them are quite good. I especially like when the photographs have been tampered a bit to look old or grainy. The covers I prefer in this collection are Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale.

As an aside, the image used on the cover of The Blind Assassin is the same one Penguin used on the cover of their Red Classics edition of The Great Gatsby.

For Atwood’s American and UK covers, see the next post!


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