Dec 28 2011: Romance Book Cover Illustration by Laurence Houghton (Game, Set & Match, 1982)
I’ve had this acrylic on board painting for a good few years now, and according to some handwritten notes on the reverse it was painted by L. Houghton as a book cover illustration for Elspeth Rae’s Game, Set & Match in 1982. The artist is probably Laurence Houghton, who was a regular feature on Mills & Boon book covers for many years, and also worked for a host of other outlets, including Everybody’s and Girl. With all that said, though, he’s a difficult character to trace reliable information about, and if anyone knows more about him I’d be intrigued to get further details about his life and seemingly extensive career as a jobbing illustrator in the UK. Even pinning down this one particular image to its specific source has so far proved difficult, and Elspeth Rae’s Game, Set & Match, the book mentioned on the reverse of this painting, seems to be listed nowhere in the Mills & Boon (or any other likely) catalogue – but that may, of course, be down to a published edition having acquired a different title or alternate author’s pseudonym by the time it reached production – or perhaps it was a planned release that fell through? Wherever the image originally appeared, it would be great to know if anyone recognises it, or has a copy of the book whose cover it may or may not have graced at some point around 1982. As for Laurence Houghton himself, he’s essentially a best guess at the artist responsible, based on the signature and a few other scant bits of information I’ve managed to scratch up over the years. A selection of comparable paintings, in this case very definitely by the same hand, are reproduced on Karl Stedman’s blog. Those examples were seemingly painted for a similar purpose – romance book covers – probably around the same date as this picture, if the hair and clothes on display are any indication.