Book Covers


  Welcome to the Art of Desmond Cory - a history of his novels as portrayed through the book covers
Desmond Cory's first novels came out in hard-back during the early 1950s. Over a 30 year period, Cory's novels were seldom out of print, with many being re-published both in Britain and the USA under different titles.
The first British hardbacks featured some attractive cover designs very much of their time. The 1950s covers had painted artwork that continued into the 1960s, but by this time the simpler graphic illustrations were becoming more popular.
During the 70s and 80s photographic covers took over. In the 1990s Cory's US publishers returned to the more attractive hand-painted designs that featured the superb art of Paul Cozzolino.
Following early success with his serial character Johnny Fedora, Desmond Cory wrote several more assignments for this fictional British secret agent. Throughout the 50s they were published mostly by Frederick Muller Ltd., London with some terrific covers.      
By the mid-1950s Cory's novels were also being published in paperback by World Distribution Ltd in Manchester. "Height of Day" was the first, a Fedora novel Cory stated he wrote in just a number of days. For this reason, it was not Cory's favorite novel, but the public continued to buy them. In 1955 five Cory novels were published in either paperback or hardback. Cory even wrote under another nome-de-plume (Theo Callas), and saw his novels converted into BBC Radio plays.
Cory's popularity grew futher in the years that followed. In 1957, six novels published in one year alone, and in 1958 , Maclean Rogers directed the film "The Mark of the Phoenix " , based on Cory's novel "The Phoenix Sings".

During the early 1960s, US publishers also began to print Desmond Cory's newer novels. "Pilgrim on the Island" was the first (by Walker & Company, New York), followed by "Undertow". This was at a time when Cory was already widening the scope of his work, with "Jones on the Belgrade Express " (his 2nd novel for children), and "Stranglehold", which introduced Cory's new off-beat hero - Mr. Dee.


The mid-sixties marked a defining moment for Cory's work. While his publishers pressed him for more Fedora novels (with which he obliged), the author was already tiring of the character, and wrote "Deadfall", a pschological thriller totally different from his previous material. Published both in Britain and the USA in 1965 as a hard-back, the American version (by Walker & Company, New York) is to many the more attractive design. It's marvellous design by Roberta Kimmel, consists of a silver jacket with a black cat. Inside, the book is of a high quality blue cloth with silver slanting lettering. The novel was to prove to be Desmond Cory's most successful, being made into a Twentieth Century Fox movie with Michael Caine.

During the late 60s, the demand for Cory's British espionage novels continued in the USA as in Britain. Award Books, New York, republished most of the Johnny Fedora novels, most under new titles. For some strange reason, only " Johnnny Goes West" kept it original title, while others received more dubious titles (in vogue with the time) such as " The Nazi Assasins", " The Swastika Hunt", and "the Gestapo Files".

     Click here to continue: Part 2 (1970s-2010s)      


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