Murderers’ Cottages (Warren Editions 1976) was the first published collaboration between the Artist Glynn Boyd Harte and Film Maker & Publisher Joanathan Gili. Jonathan had met Glynn at the latter’s degree show at the Royal College of Art. They struck up an immediate friendship, both shared a very dry and sometimes mordant wit. Jonathan was the kind of publisher who simply wanted to make certain books exist. He published for the pleasure of conceiving, designing and making. They were ideally matched in this respect, although they argued fiercely over almost every aspect of every book they worked on together. Neither would give an inch on anything down to the tiniest full stop. They did however produce some lovely things together, of which this is the very first. The idea was to produce a chap book style publication depicting Staffordshire china souvenirs of notorious murderers’ cottages. I am not sure where the full texts or even some of the actual murderers came from, the least known are most likely inventions. I do know that a lot of laughter went into the making and that Glynn wrote the texts and then they were argued over and in the end final versions were agreed. The images were drawn as colour separations in the old fashioned manner. As I remember they were drawn on typo detail paper at same size, four colours including black, or perhaps the black was separate so a fifth colour? They were not printed lithographically, that came later with the Metroland book.
There is fine exhibition of Glynn’s watercolours and lithographs at the Curwen Gallery in Windmill Street Fitzrovia until May 25th. No copies of Murderers’ Cottages are available there however. Only 500 copies were printed, no doubt copies might be tracked down on Abe Books at a price. Here is the complete set, the text is well worth the read, it has the same deadpan qualities found in Edward Gorey an artist and writer much admired by both Glynn & Jonathan, I am astonished to think that this tiny little chap book (three and a quarter inches wide and five and a quarter inches deep) is now thirty five years old.
Glynn died in 2003 and Jonathan in 2004, they are much missed.