Seems like I only stumbled across a previously unseen (by me) edition of John D. MacDonald’s One Monday We Killed Them All this morning or the day before (image below). But I’ve already forgotten where, and scrolling backwards through my WordPress Reader, Tumblr feed, Pinterest and BlogLovin’ hasn’t revealed the source. (So, if it was you posting this provocative cover art, please shout out so I can say thanks…at least, thanks for sending me on a merry goose chase!) Wherever it appeared, the signed cover illustration intrigued me enough to go rooting around, hoping to learn more about British artist and illustrator Barbara Walton. And as I then soon discovered, about fellow British artist and illustrator, her sister, Eileen Walton.
Biographical info on the Walton sisters is sparse. Make that nearly non-existent, at least from what I could find, though I’m no vintage pulp/paperback cover art archeologist. If a reliable go-to source like J. Kingston Pierce’s Killer Covers Of The Week blog could only yield sketchy details, a rank amateur like me could do no better.
When were they born? Are they still with us? Who came first? Sorry, I don’t know. All I can deduce from dated work is that Eileen Walton began working in advertising and editorial illustration in the mid-1950’s, her sister Barbara in book cover illustration in the late 1950’s, both of them the most prolific throughout the 1960’s, with their intriguingly evolving art seeming to vanish altogether by the late-1970’s. But then, they wouldn’t be the only illustrators who migrated from the rapidly shrinking cover art marketplace around that time, as photography and image-free graphic design swiftly dominated the industry.
Both Barbara and Eileen Walton did contemporary and historical romance titles and even children’s books, but it’s their exciting work for Fontana Books, Robert Hale Ltd. and other UK publishers’ mystery, thriller and crime fiction titles that fit here. So browse the next few posts to discover (as I did) some truly intriguing work from two women you may not have even known about, perhaps overshadowed for many retro illustration enthusiasts by the likes of Reginald Heade or David Wright among the UK artists, and a long list of faves from Maguire to McGinnis and others among American illustrators.