Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
The changing artwork is part of my fun in collecting these books. Although there are two text versions, the illustrations were updated three times, with the quality deteriorating each time.
Russell Tandy did the first two versions, but the second revision, to save costs on the printing, only included a single frontispiece in a plain paper rather than glossy page, and he kept essentially the same design, but updated the hair and clothing styles. The book in my collection with this illustration was printed about 1954, but based on Nancy’s hair and clothes, I’m guessing that this illustration was revised in the 40’s.
The illustrations were revised again for the 1959 revised text, but this time by an uncredited artist who had little of Tandy’s talent, and by the 1970’s (for the later volumes in the series) the illustrations look like they were pulled from a reject pile of scribblings. The revised versions all have 6 plain paper line drawings. These revised text illustrations don’t attempt to mirror Tandy’s original work, although they sometimes show a similar scene.
And last, here’s an illustration of one of those random scenes inserted just to have an end of chapter cliffhanger and artificial drama, but don’t actually have anything to do with the mystery. In this scene, the ceiling collapses on Nancy and Helen because the old ladies neglected to repair a roof leak. This is never referred to again during the book, not even to discuss the cleanup, despite the author’s zeal for detailing the dusting and tidying and dishwashing, so I guess everyone kept stepping around the pile of rubble and not bothering to get a contractor out to fix the giant hole in the ceiling. I guess the Cult of Domesticity includes ladies engaging in housework, but not actual home repairs or maintenance. All I know is, 1930 Nancy would never have let a collapsed ceiling go unfixed. All 1959 Nancy did about it was change into clean clothes.
Index of posts for The Hidden Staircase: