Readers love Georgette Heyer for her humour. Her historical and detective novels are full of funny scenes, witty dialogue and memorable characters. Heyer’s wit and sparkling language make her a popular re-read and one of her finest comic novels is The Talisman Ring. It’s a period mystery with great characters, a page-turning plot and some very funny dialogue.
The book had an unusual birth because for once Heyer had writer’s block. It was April 1936, she was 34, with a two-year old son and the main family breadwinner. With twenty books under her belt, this was the first time she’d felt she’d ‘written herself out’. After struggling for several days she’d almost given up, when ‘a Wholly Glorious novel burst upon [her] in the space of twenty minutes’. Three hours work gave her the synopsis and two months later she’d finished The Talisman Ring.
RARE COVER ART
Heinemann commissioned the well-known artist, Philip Youngman Carter to design the dust wrapper. Youngman Carter was a writer married to the famous mystery author, Margery Allingham, but he was best known for his book jackets. He designed dustwrappers for many famous writers, including H.G. Wells, Daphne du Maurier, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, J.B. Priestley and Rebecca West. Heyer had several fine artists design her book jackets. Arthur Barbosa was her favourite, followed by Philip Gough. She also liked Theyre Lee Elliot’s eye-catching art deco jacket for Pastel (1929). Surprisingly, the original cover art for The Talisman Ring still exists, though it’s never been seen in public. Consisting of a rough pencil sketch and the final watercolour design, the two pictures remain in private hands. I’m delighted that the current owner has given me permission to share photos of Philip Youngman Carter’s original design.