Thursday, January 03, 2013

The spooky art of Ronald Clyne 

The first thing that caught my eye about Witch House (1945) was the dust-jacket. I have never read anything by Evangeline Walton (1907-1996), the pen name of Evangeline Wilna Ensley, an American author of fantasy fiction.

The dust-jacket has an illustration by Ronald Clyne (1925-2006), an American freelance designer and graphic artist who earned his reputation by creating more than 500 LP covers for Folkways Records. In fact, Clyne defined the style and look of most of the covers of the music company, which was founded by Moses Asch and which mainly recorded folk, world, and children’s music. In 1987, Folkways Records was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.

Witch House, an occult horror story set in New England, was published by Arkham House, a publishing enterprise founded by American writer and anthologist August Derleth. He popularised several categories of books, especially fantasy and supernatural, horror, and science fiction. He gave good friend H.P. Lovecraft his first big break.

Evangeline Walton with the first edition of
The Virgin and the Swine, 1936, republished as
The Island of the Mighty by Ballantine's Adult
Fantasy series in 1970. 
© Wikimedia Commons

Ronald Clyne was a regular at Arkham House and his art is stamped on the covers of a number of books published by the company. Among the many things I learned while compiling this piece is that Witch House was the first full-length novel published by Arkham House and it was one of the earliest books listed in the Library of Arkham House Novels of Fantasy and Terror. 

Evangeline Walton has written many novels and short stories and is best known for her Welsh Mabinogi tales. According to Wikipedia, “The Mabinogion is the title given to a collection of 11 prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts. The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions.” Sounds interesting.

Note: For more book covers, see under Labels.


  1. I've read a couple of things by her and enjoyed them. Don't know much about her, though.

    1. Charles, I like the titles of Walton's books and am tempted to read at least one of them, perhaps WITCH HOUSE to begin with. I am surprised that so many women authors of that period dabbled in horror, sf, and fantasy.

  2. Horror is definitely not my thing, but I asked my husband because he has read books from Arkham House. He said he had read books from the Ballantine's adult fantasy series... and wishes he still had them. An interesting post.

    1. Thank you, Tracy. horror, especially films, is not my thing either but I read them once in a while to keep my interest in nearly every genre alive. I am not very familiar with Arkham House publications either though I just may have read books without realising they came from this publisher. There are interesting stories about early authors and their relations with early publishing houses.