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Two on an Island and other stories

Ethel Talbot

This book marked the end of Blampied's association with Thomas Nelson and Sons of Edinburgh and their commissiong editor, Edwin Chater Jack. While Blampied was providing drawings in line and flat colours for children's books he continued to design a few dust jackets and this was the last to be commissioned. Edwin Jack wrote to Blampied at his address in Glencairn Road, Streatham in London on 22nd April 1922:

I am sending you herewith a copy of The Jolly Book which contains a story Two on an Island. We propose to issue this story in a volume, size of volume Babes in a Basket which we send you herewith. Would you be good enough to send me one or two suggestions for a wrapper for this volume. The volume will be one of a series and I wish the wrapper for the Two on an Island to have the same design which will link it up with the series. You managed this for us very successfully in the case of another series of which I send you a wrapper and I hope you may be able to give us equally effective design for the present series. Kindly send me two suggestions. I had thought it might be possible to work in the 'bluebird' as an emblem of this series but it may not be possible to do this without conflicting with picture on each wrapper. I should be glad to have your suggestions at your early convenience.

At about this time Edmund's brother, John, took over as his agent and dealt with publishers such as Edwin Jack because Jack's next letter, on 24th April was address to John Blampied at Court Road, West Norwood in London.

I think that the design Mr Edmund Blampied has submitted for the wrapper of children’s stories promises very well indeed. We are returning the sketch herewith. Please note the following small alterations. The back should be narrower as marked. The price on the back should be 1/6 not 1/9. It would be as well to keep the title of the series off the back and put on the back only the title Two on an Island and the author’s name. Please leave the white space between the back and the side design as marked. On the side we should like the price very small, 1/6 net. We should like Mr. Blampied to send us also one or two sketches for the binding of this series. The books will be bound in cloth. The binding will be in two blockings. The design must be suitable for a series of books for boys and girls of say about 7 to 10, and must be suitable of any type of book. We hope Mr Blampied will be able to work us out a happy design. We wish to see sketches first. Size of book will, of course, be the same size as the wrapper we return.

A month later, Jack wrote to John Blampied:

We have received the drawing for children’s book wrapper advised in your letter of 13th May. We fear that Mr. Blampied has finished this drawing in much too great a hurry. We shall, however, be able to use it with some alteration which we shall make here. We regret that the drawings for the binding are not suitable for our purpose. They are somewhat too pictorial and would not be suitable for a series of books. We are therefore returning these and regret the trouble Mr. Blampied has had.

In the early 1920s Blampied was very busy establishing his name as an etcher and was working for several other publishers as well, so his work for Thomas Nelson and Sons was diminishing in amount. This title was issued with two other stories by Ethel Talbot in a different series from that named by Jack. It has a decorated binding. According to Jisc there were 36 titles in this series but the code on this title is BU 50, so there may have been many more. There was no 'bluebird' series of books.

The last letter quoted above was, in fact, the last letter in the archive from Edwin Jack either to Edmund or John Blampied. It was sent at the same time that Blampied was making drawings for The Zoo Book which were rather uninspired and didn't meet Jack's requirements. The Zoo Book was eventually published in 1924 but made no mention of Blampied as the illustrator, and just 5 of 22 drawings are signed 'Blam' to identify it as a book illustrated by Edmund Blampied. All other books published by Thomas Nelson and Sons after this simply re-used existing drawings.

First edition, thus

Bibliography code: NEL-23.3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson and Sons

Series: Nelson's Red Star Series BU 50

Year: [1923]

Format: 8vo

Pages: iv, 123

Binding: light blue cloth decorated with a mesh of diagonal bars in black and yellow creating diamonds within which are 11 figures or items in silhouette, with the title in yellow in a box on the middle; title, author and publisher in yellow on the spine with a two diamonds in black and yello within a box. Plain rear boards.

Size: 182 x 127 mm

Dust jacket: signed Blam lower right in rocks

Image of dust jacket

Dust jacket (click to enlarge)

Internal illustrations: colour frontispiece of the same drawing by Blampied as on cover; 19 line illustrations by different artists in each story, only one initialled AW.

Source of illustration: Original wraper design

Price: 1 shilling 6 pence

Printing history: none stated

Printed by: Printed in Great Britain at the Press of the Publishers

Notes: The series was launched in 1923 with the 15 other titles listed on the back of the jacket of this book. If so, it's not clear why this has the code 'BU 50' on the spine.