Brian Cook was born in Buckinghamshire in 1910. At school he was hopeless at every subject except art. Leaving school he started work at the family business – Batsford’s, publishing books on the English countryside. As he was artistic, his job was to produce the dust jackets to wrap around the books. These had been plain, with a purely functional purpose being to protect the books from dirt. Brian Cook created a new style which was colourful, attractive and completely different to how the books had been before. He said “the colours were, for those days, blatant, bizarre, strident and unreal.” Unsurprisingly these sold well as nobody else was producing covers quite like them. His book jackets were English, vibrant, and beautiful. They led to him designing posters for railways and the British Tourist Board. When his uncle died in 1952 he became company Chairman, which meant that he took on other responsibilities so his design and illustration work came to a halt.
I’ve recently discovered Brian Cook through a book called Brian Cook’s Landscapes of Britain. Here are some of my favourite illustrations from the book. I’d quite like one on the wall in my living room. Aren’t they fantastic?