Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959): The Paperback Covers

Always in print since its original publication over 50 years ago, horror fans should need no introduction to The Haunting of Hill House. You might, however, need an introduction to the various paperback editions of the novel. Above is the Penguin Books edition from 1984... not sure how I feel about all those neon colors, and the odd placement of the title over that guy's head; something might be threatening them, or maybe an intrusive photographer just butted in and they're waiting for him to move on. Who knows...

Editions from Popular Library in 1962 highlighted the fantastic Robert Wise movie adaptation, titled simply The Haunting. I love the image of the woman trapped in the maze; perfectly apt for poor Eleanor.

This cover with the critical blurbs taking up the top half seems to be the first paperback edition. The slightly cartoonish image of Hill House reminds me of something you'd see on an edition of Bradbury's The October Country or The Halloween Tree.

From Warner Books in 1982, both author and title are well-known enough that it can be Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. The simplicity of this cover is just oh-so-slightly malevolent. Nice.

And in 1999 came another movie version, some CGI travesty I've no desire to ever see. The movie tie-in from Penguin isn't too terrible, although Hill House looks more like a Gothic castle than a house. But I'm just glad people are still reading The Haunting of Hill House today.

Current trade paperback edition


Kevin said...

I've generally gathered from various book design and Penguin collector blogs I've visited in the past that the 1980s was a pretty dark time for Penguin in terms of covers lacking the usual design pizazz that they're known for.

Certainly, while that particular neon-coloured Haunting of Hill House hasn't been singled out by these people, it seems to be symptomatic of the general unfocussed malaise the publisher was suffering from back then. I've seen other bad covers on Penguin books but those always appeared to be an artist's sincere attempt at doing something different for the novel as opposed to here which just seems more random than anything else.

Of all of the above, my favourite is the 1982 Warner Books version.

Will Errickson said...

Thanks for the background on Penguin, Kevin. Yes, I think that Warner edition is best too.

Matt said...

You haven't seen the 1999 remake? Oh, how I envy you.

The Fifth Dollanganger said...

I have a copy of another Jackson title, We Have Always Live in the Castle, with a very similar cover to the 1982 Warner edition: a seated black cat half-silhouetted in metallic copper. I'm a Jackson fan and have two or three different editions of each of her titles. If Warner released any other Jackson covers with similarly designed copper-and-black covers, I'm definitely going to start hunting them down.

Unknown said...

I gotta say that original is the one I'm drawn to, if for nothing else, because of the retro, almost groovy design.

Anonymous said...

how about the works of Gary Brandner? Is he any good? I have HOWLING 1 and HOWLING II but dont know if I should spend the time delving into these books. Any comments on these and other Brandner titles would be very helpful.

And what about William Peter Blatty (esp LEGION). I just watched EXORCIST III (directed by Blatty and based on his book) and thought it was really realy good. I was just wondering if by chance you had read LEGION or even TWINKLE TWINKLE KILLER KANE and if these titles were any good.

Thanks for your blog - you have really helped to increase my To-Read pile.

jmcozzoli said...

I wonder if Joseph Mugnaini did that cover with the over-run blurby and small Hill House? That's the weirdest cover design I've ever seen. Saving money, I suppose.