Judging the London Review of Books by its covers

Designing book covers has been quite rightly the subject of much celebration recently– from the talk by David Pearson and Teresa Monachino, to the launch of designer Mark Hearld’s cute work book, to Design Week’s own look at judging a Booker Prize nominee by its cover.

London Review of Books cover
London Review of Books cover

Now, a new show opening this week commemorates the career of Peter Campbell, who designed for the London Review of Books from its beginning in September 1979 until his death in 2011.

London Review of Books cover
London Review of Books cover

Campbell designed the publication’s very first issue, and went on to create almost every watercolour cover image for the next 32 years  – as well as juggling other roles and passions including typographer, critic, children¹s author and ‘amateur botanist’.

Cover for Life on Earth
Cover for Life on Earth

The New Zealand-born artist moved to Britain in 1960, and for a number of years worked at BBC Publications, designing the books of the famous television series of the 1960s and 1970s.

Peter Campbell's cartoon
Peter Campbell’s cartoon

During his time at the BBC, Campbell designed book jackets in the 1960s including David Attenborough’s Life On Earth, Alistair Cooke’s America and jackets for the quintessentially British playwright, screenwriter, actor and author Alan Bennett.

Cover for Alan Bennet's The Uncommon Reader
Cover for Alan Bennet’s The Uncommon Reader

Of Campbell’s work, Bennett says, ‘Genial, domestic and affectionate … One mark of an artist is that he or she alerts us to a world. Modest and wholly without pretension this Campbell repeatedly does.’

London Review of Books cover
London Review of Books cover
Peter Campbell's Artwork book cover
Peter Campbell’s Artwork book cover

The exhibition accompanies the launch of a book of Campbell’s work entitled Artwork, designed by Jade Design and published by Profile Books.

A selection of Peter Campbell’s work will be on display at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A from 30 October – 9 November and Campbell’s paintings and drawings are also on display at The London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London WC1A. To see more of the work visit www.lrb.co.uk/artwork-peter-campbell

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