Lord Peter Wimsey gets a makeover

Editorial Director Ruth Tross gives us a behind-the-scenes peek at the process of rejacketing Dorothy L. Sayer's classic Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.

Posted on September 28, 2016 in Behind the Scenes
Tags: Classic Crime

dls11The brief!

We wanted to update the covers of Dorothy L. Sayers classic crime series to make them more obviously ‘classic’ books, and more colourful than the black and white photos we had been using – the last cover refresh was back in 2004, so they had started to look dated.



The challenge!

There are sixteen titles… how do you make each one pretty without them all starting to look just the same?


The original guidance to the art team:

My advice was – go, be brilliant! (Along with some helpful comparisons of other classic authors.)


My colleague Anne’s slightly more useful advice was to sketch out an idea of using the copy in some way.


We all wanted a monocle in there. But not like this:


The art department came back with a mood board, looking at quite stylized period illustrations…


And using period designs as a border to keep the books looking different.


From these, Sarah came up with a rough sketch.


… which was remarkably similar to the final design:


I then had a great time re-reading the books and suggesting cover ideas for the rest of the series…

Unnatural Death – could try abandoned picnic, maybe if it was at night? Or a mirror reflecting a body in bed

Clouds of Witness – emerald cat brooch (can get description – could be trodden into the ground, slightly chipped). Or outstretched hand with gun next to greenhouse, or lonely farmhouse on moor.

Some more helpful than others:

The Documents in the Case – erm, documents in a case? Mushrooms are the murder weapon.

Then Sarah started turning my ramblings into Art:


There followed a brief pause while we discussed such pressing problems as ‘does the monocle look like a hand grenade’, ‘can you tell that’s a picnic basket’ and ‘are they getting too grey’.

And one set of colour variations later – we had the first set of lovely covers!



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