Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Raymond Sheppard and Silent Hunter

The Silent Hunter dustjacket

Raymond Sheppard's artwork in "The Silent Hunter" is very robust and well-executed. The first edition, published in 1939 (when Sheppard was only 26 years of age but drawing prolifically - especially for Blackie and Son) had a nice dustjacket (see above).  I love the 'cameo' effect of incomplete borders in this artwork which emphasise the big aspect of the subjects, take for example the frontispiece of a lynx sitting on a mountain rock. A drawing of a more proud animal in its natural element would be hard to find, but Sheppard convinces through his talent with line, shading and composition.

In the Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Vol 1 (by R. Reginald (Author), Douglas Menville (Editor), Mary A. Burgess (Editor. Borgo Press, 2010) we find a notation for Philip Briggs who wrote Escape from Gravity and The Silent Planet science-fiction novels. This 'male' author also wrote several adventure books (listed at the bottom of this article).

Interestingly the entry states his name is the pseudonym of Phylllis Briggs (not to be confused with the lady -1908-2008- who inspired Tenko the TV series!). I don't know where they got this information but assuming it's correct, Phyllis wrote The Silent Hunter which Raymond Sheppard illustrated.

Engraved cover of "The Silent Hunter"
This comes from the frontispiece

Frontispiece (for p.170)
"She sat for a long time with a far-away look in her eyes"
The lynx sits proud on a rock

p25: Nearer he came, his eyes now slowly closing as he felt the waves of heat
The lynx cowers towards a log fire

p35: The hare fell like a stone
The lynx catches a hare in snow

p61: Babel broke out
The lynx leaps at chickens on a shelf

p87: Then began a wild flurry
The lynx captures a goose

p109: The cat was much nearer
A boy astride a branch cowers
as a lynx approaches from a higher branch
p.119 A fine haddock
The lynx approaches a net under which is a fish

p.149 The man staggered back
Two men fight in the guard's van -
the lynx is in a cage

p.161 She leaped out in one superb arc
A boy frees a caged lynx
p.175 A great wolfish brute had led his pack
A pack of hounds follow a wolf-like dog in the snow

p.181 He called up his ruffians, never far away
A wolf howls in a snowy landscape

p.189 A warning whine woke in her throat
One lynx cowers while another approaches

p.201 “Get back in there and stay there!”
A woman with a scarf raises a hand
with a rock in it to a lynx that begins to exit a cave

p.209 The fight surged down the hill
Various dogs fight each other; 
in the background men with guns attack dogs

p.219 Out stumbled the single kitten
The lynx carries a rabbit to a kitten

Phyllis Midwood Briggs, (1904-1981) was an author of children’s fiction from the 1930s to 1960s. The dustjacket for the only book of Briggs' I own states: "The author who knows [Sweden] its wildlife, and its people very well indeed". Beyond this I can't find anything about Phyllis Briggs. She died in Clacton-on-Sea on 11 June 1981 (mentioned in the London Gazette) and from the fact she is in the Gazette at all means she either had no living immediate relatives and / or she left behind some wealth, I guess. I think the story she is best remembered for is "Son of Black Beauty" but I love this particular book. 


Brer Rabbit Stories. Retold by Phyllis Briggs from the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris, Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1952]

The Cat of Pine Ridge Illustrated by C. Gifford Ambler.
London : Hutchinson's Books for Young People, [1944]

Horses and ponies of the world picture-stamp book Illustrated by Nat Long.
Paulton ; London : Purnell, [1966]

The Keeper of the Lake.
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1945.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Retold by Phyllis Briggs.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1954]

More Brer Rabbit Stories. Based on the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris,. Retold by Phyllis Briggs. Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1953]

More Stories of Pickles the Pony Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1959]

Ocean Redhead.
London : Lutterworth Press, 1949.

Pickles the Pony Illustrated by G. Higham.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1959]

The Secret Garden Illustrated by J. E. McConnell.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1951]

The Silent Hunter Illustrated by Raymond Sheppard.
London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, 1939.

Son of Black Beauty.
London : Thames Publishing Co., [1952]

Tales of Brer Rabbit. Told by Phyllis Briggs from the original stories by Joel Chandler Harris, Illustrated by E. H. Davie.
London : Juvenile Productions, [1955]

Wolf of the North. [A tale.]
London : A. & C. Black, 1937.

As Philip Briggs:

Coast Waters.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1949.

Escape from Gravity
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1955.

Man of Antarctica. The story of Captain Scott.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1959.

North with the Pintail.
Philip Briggs
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1943.

Orchid Island.
Philip Briggs
London ; Redhill : Lutterworth Press, 1947.

The Silent Planet
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, 1957.

Three Rovers.
Philip Briggs
London : Lutterworth Press, [1958]

The Turning Point.
Philip Briggs
London : Pickering & Inglis, 1953.

Under the Ensign.
Philip Briggs
London ; Edinburgh : Oliphants, 1957.

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