In Search for ‘Aesthetic Authorship’: Agatha Christie and the History of British Book Design (80646)

Session Information: Teaching and Learning
Session Chair: Chia-Chan Chang

Saturday, 25 May 2024 10:20
Session: Session 1
Room: Room 703
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

It is less known that Agatha Christie (1890-1976), the “Queen of Crime”, had a very strong design consciousness. She was interested in reforming houses and interior decoration, learning painting and photography at art and design schools, living in modernist as well as classical buildings, collecting contemporary paintings, and above all, very careful of the visual presentation of her books. Christie not only represented the development of modern British graphic and book design, but also tried to establish what might be called ‘aesthetic authorship’- to have a more control over book design as an author. The publishers she associated with were historically noteworthy as her first publisher, the Bodley Head, was one of the first in investing in the ‘art for art’s sake’ books, and she became a very good friend of Allen Lane who started the Penguin Books which revolutionalised the world of publishing as well as book design with the use of Gill Sans and modern cover graphics. Besides, she herself was continuously arguing with her publishers over her dust jacket designs for more aesthetic treatments, thus insisting a positive role of the author in producing her books as a work of art. The paper examines how Christie’s book cover designs reflected her design consciousness, and how she fought with her publishers in some conflicting cases over cover design. It considers the historical significance of her commitment in ‘aesthetic authorship’ in the history of British design.

Yasuko Suga, Tsuda University, Japan

About the Presenter(s)
Professor Yasuko Suga is a University Professor/Principal Lecturer at Tsuda University in Japan

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00