New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1950s. Here are two original, hand painted and lettered dust jacket design concepts for the American first edition of Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by the influential mid-Twentieth Century book jacket designer Philip Grushkin (1921-1998). The designs are executed in gouache, watercolor, ink, and paste-down image on board. The Volume I design measures 8.5 x 9.5 inches, the Volume II design 8.5 x 7.25 inches. The design for The Birth of Britain is what we may assume to be an early concept, as the published design shares only the general red and blue colors and banded layout.
Grushkin's Volume II design is of particular interest as it features the title Liberty and Sovereignty instead of the published title The New World. The Volume II dust jacket design is otherwise more similar to the published jacket, with the same style lettering and photo of Churchill used in the final design for the first volume. Emended to the spine of Grushkin's design for this volume are indecipherable penciled notes, presumably those of the publisher. Together these jackets present an example of the multi-stage process Grushkin employed in developing a jacket design, wherein he experimented with different images, arrangements, and type styles. Both jacket designs are handsomely and professionally framed in dark brown wood with low glare UV Plexiglass, beveled mats, and a sturdy wire hanger on the rear.
A History of the English-Speaking Peoples is Churchill's sweeping history and last great work. The first draft was completed just before the Second World War, but the work was not finished and published until after Churchill's second and final Premiership, nearly 20 years later. The work traces a great historical arc from Roman Britain through the end of the Nineteenth Century, ending with the death of Queen Victoria. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the very year that saw Churchill conclude his first North American lecture tour, take his first seat in Parliament, and begin to make history himself. The work was published in four volumes between 1956 and 1958.
The New York Times called Philip Grushkin "a book designer whose work made him the standard-bearer throughout the publishing industry," and his list of covers include such significant works as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, works by such eminent authors as Truman Capote, E.B. White, C.S. Lewis, and, not least, Winston Churchill. Born in Brooklyn to Jewish-Russian immigrants, Grushkin developed an early interest in book jackets, and as a teen began collecting books with design that appealed to him. Of particular interest was the work of George Salter (1897-1967) who would later become Grushkin's mentor during his time studying calligraphy and design as an art student at Cooper Union.
After the Second World War, Grushkin started his career in earnest, working for nearly all of the major publishers, and eventually becoming art director and vice president at Harry N. Abrams. In his book, Philip Grushkin: A Designer's Archive, author Paul Shaw writes, "Grushkin forged his own brand of modernism, a unique mixture of bold typographic hand lettering, dynamic background patterns, vibrant colors, and abstract." Grushkin was a holdout for older methods in a changing industry. "Hand-lettering was his mantra and muse. A computer, he argued, obliterated all that felt alive." (NYT, Oct. 5, 1998). Item #003187