The Companion Book Club: literature from the swinging sixties

Book club editions often receive short shrift from booksellers and collectors. Written off as mass market reprints, they are very low on the literary pecking order. But consider the Companion Book Club for a moment… if only for the feast of beautiful cover art that is displayed on this page.

The Companion Book Club – operated by a firm called Odhams - reprinted much fiction and non-fiction worth a second look during the 1960s and the early 1970s, and earned a significant following among readers in Britain. Thrillers, mysteries and modern adventure novels were the Club’s staple fodder. Books from Len Deighton, Alistair MacLean, Victor Canning and Ngaio Marsh were extremely popular with its members.

The artwork for Companion Book Club editions can be divided into two styles. The dramatic illustrations on muted pastel colours seen on this page and checked patterns also in pastel colours (see the example right).

Many fine illustrators produced dust jacket artwork for the Companion Book Club, including Roger Payne, Mike Charlton, Barry Wilkinson and Roger Micklewright. Much of the jacket artwork has a real ‘Sixties’ theme in its style.

Fifty years later, books issued by the Companion Book Club are as cheap as chips. The most expensive copy on AbeBooks is under £60 and there are hundreds of copies priced at a few pounds plus shipping.


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