Dec 28 2011: Romance Book Cover Illustration by Laurence Houghton (Game, Set & Match, 1982)

L Houghton, cover image made for Game Set & Match by Elsbeth Rae (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, 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, it would be great to know more. 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 fairly definitely by the same hand, are reproduced on Karl Stedman’s blog. These examples were seemingly painted for a similar purpose – romance book covers – and probably around the same date, give or take a few years either side, as this picture, at least if the hair-styles and clothes on display are any indication.

2 Responses to “Dec 28 2011: Romance Book Cover Illustration by Laurence Houghton (Game, Set & Match, 1982)”
  1. Tony Keetch says:

    I knew Laurence Houghton. He and his wife Vera were friends of the family, and my father was Laurie’s accountant. You’re right, they lived in Argyle Road for years. They were great friends with the cartoonist Giles who named his weeping character Vera after Laurie’s wife (who was nothing like that!) I own 2 portraits of my late sister drawn by Laurie.

    • wayneburrows says:

      Thank you for the information: still don’t have much info about him, and still haven’t found out if the illustration here was ever used in print, so all this is great to know!

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