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Row over ‘homage’ to classic Ipcress File dust jacket


Dust jackets are really important in my line work. A modern first edition really needs a dust jacket to be valuable. The most eye-catching dust jackets are invaluable in helping me sell books to you folks. There are times when a gorgeous dust jacket stops me in my tracks.

Therefore I feel compelled to highlight a story in The Observer about the dust jacket of the 1962 first edition of The Ipcress File by Len Deighton.  The artist was Raymond Hawkey and some publishing folk say it was a landmark design. It appears that a new book called Harry Lipkin, PI. has a very similar jacket design.

This book’s publishers and author, Barry Fantoni of Private Eye fame, call it an “affectionate homage” to Hawkey, although they admit it is used without acknowledgement or authorisation. Hawkey’s widow, Mary Hawkey, Deighton’s biographer, Edward Milward-Oliver, and a number of Hawkey’s contemporaries have branded the jacket a rip-off and asked for its withdrawal, condemning it as “shameful” and “outrageous”.

A bit more than a homage, I think. It looks like the same revolver was used for both covers.

Deighton and Hawkey studied together at the  Royal College of Art. Hawkey also designed jackets for celebrated writers such as Kingsley Amis, Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, Iris Murdoch, Ruth Rendell and Ian Fleming’s Thunderball.

Hawkey, who died in 2010, was design director at the Daily Express in the 1950s and early 1960s, and also at The Observer in the 1970s.

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