Romek Marber and Josephine Tey

One edition of Josephine Tey’s book “The Daughter of Time” was published in the distinctive green covers of the Penguin Crime series.

A friend sent me this link the other day, to the recent obituary of Romek Marber, the designer of these classic covers:

Romek Marber Guardian obituary headline with pictures

Marber had a fascinating life, escaping from the Holocaust and ending up in London, and it is well worth reading the full article.

A quick search on google brought up a whole load of other interesting articles about the man, his life and his designs, ranging from the major exhibition on his work in Krakow in 2015 to discussion of whether or not he used a Rotring pen:

Originally from Poland, as a graphic designer Romek Marber “presented a version of European Modernism that was distinct both from the traditions of English Arts and Crafts and from the more robust approaches taken by American designers to styling consumer goods”.

Romek Marber 4 book covers

The Penguin covers are highly collectible: I used to run a second-hand bookshop, and had several customers who would regularly look for both the green and the orange Penguins.

During the research for my biography of Josephine Tey, I did some work in the Penguin Archive, where there is a fat file on “The Daughter of Time” – quite a lot of which is admiring and interested letters from readers. A few years ago I wrote a special article on request for the Richard III Society magazine, about Tey, “The Daughter of Time”, and the Penguin Archive. Afterwards, I presented a talk to the Scottish branch of the Richard III Society. Held in the fantastic venue of the Storytelling Centre in John Knox’s house on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this was a talk I particularly enjoyed. The people attending were very interested in the reaction to Tey’s novel, and her attitudes to Richard III, and shared with me their own interests and expertise.

Writing is all about communication, and I have been lucky to meet all sorts of people while researching and writing not only my Tey biography, but also my new book “Daughters of the North” and other shorter pieces. Often I have ‘met’ people via email, letter or phone. In these last few weeks of Covid-19 lockdown I have enjoyed keeping up my conversations with my writing and research friends – people who have told me of their own experiences at the moment – or instead about the books they are reading; letting me know Tey’s “The Franchise Affair” was on television – and sending the link that sparked this post about Romek Marber. I really appreciate these contacts, and also the people who get in touch with me through this website.

One of the reasons I am interested in writing (and reading) biography is the endless fascination of other people’s lives: everyone’s experiences are different, and we can only try to understand them.

And one final thing – the radio show I was involved in about Inverness’ Victorian Market was re-broadcast last weekend, so it is once again available to listen to online:

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