The St Clare’s covers through the years, 1990s – now

Continuing on from my previous post which looked at covers from the 1940s originals through to those in the 1980s.

Familiar and unfamiliar Deans

The first set of Deans, from 1990, are much like several other sets for other series. They use Hilda Offen illustrations from the Methuen hardbacks, but cropped into a square with ‘bits’ escaping around the edges. Strangely some of the girls’ heads and feet are awkwardly cropped off! The Cave of Books doesn’t have the Methuen covers [link] for the last three books of the series but we can get a good idea of what they looked like from this set. So some of them are a bit garish but I suspect the originals were a little less so.

All Dean 1990

The second set of Deans, from 1997, are also an illustration in a box, cropped from the previous Mammoth editions (see below) with a rather garish orange border. The original illustrations are by Button Design Co who did some titles for the Malory Towers series too.

All Dean 1997

And the final Deans, published in 2013, also use the Mammoth image cropped into an oval this time.

All Dean 2013

Going back and forward a bit

Going back in time again, here are the original 1996 Mammoths by Button Design Co that Dean nicked. Some of these are not that bad. The first and third books are fairly timeless, though the drawing style reminds me of other 90s paperbacks of the time. And then Fifth Formers at St Clare’s looks like there’s a strange supernatural ritual going on in the dormitory!

All Mammoth 1996

And jumping forward, Mammoth also published a set in 2000. These covers, by Paul Catherall have brightly coloured backgrounds and a object, or objects, important to the storyline but no people.

The other featured objects are a lacrosse net and ball, a key (I assume signifying the tale of Mam’zelle locking up all the ‘burglars’ one night) and a violin. I don’t think these are too awful. They are bright without being garish and at least look reasonably skilful.

The worst

As is often the case the more modern we go the worse the covers get. Starting with an Egmont set in 2005, the same illustrations – by David Roberts – were then also used by Hodder in 2016, and in the case of The Twins at St Clare’s, again in 2018.

All Egmont 2005

These look like covers for a some sort of supernatural boarding school. Evil twins, a vampire mistress (with the strangest bosom ever!) and headless horsemen by night.

All Hodder 2016

Shrinking and reframing doesn’t help – the girls still look demonic and evil. I know some of them aren’t very nice but these do not reflect the contents of the books AT ALL.

And then here’s the one off. Like the first Malory Towers book it got childish multicoloured writing, but the rest is just lifted straight from other books. It’s the first book of the series yet the characters above the title come from covers of the other books in the series.

Saving the best until last

Well, these are not the best of all the covers but I think they are the best since the originals. Ruth Palmer’s covers for this 2018 Hodder set are fabulously forties in style. She has done a similar set for Malory Towers (including those by Pamela Cox) and also apes Eileen Soper’s style quite well for the Famous Five for Grown Ups books.

All Hodder 2018

As far as I know these are only available as a box set that includes the Pamela Cox books as well (though they have nice covers too, at least) but they have individual ISBNs and could well come out as single books at some point. I think they’re lovely and if I was in the market for any paperbacks I would probably get these.

Which covers are your favourites?

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5 Responses to The St Clare’s covers through the years, 1990s – now

  1. drake says:

    The Egremonts are shocking. Someone should have been jailed for these

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jillslawit says:

    I think old are definitely the best. Those newer ones are horrid and not reflecting either stories or era. I do think the 2018 Hodders are a bit better though.


  3. Felt like the cover assignment was “Make Mam’zelle as abominable and Gothic as you can”.

    Good map – were they studying D-day that week?

    [comments on the 2005 covers of THE O’SULLIVAN TWINS].

    The Palmer ones are scrumptious! My favourites would include TWINS AT ST CLARE’S; CLAUDINE AT ST CLARE’s [that represents the pool ripples and Mrs F so cleverly and clearly].

    And why is the cupboard so neat, Toni?

    The fire has a sufficient amount of menace and the Second Form meal is so very cheery. I think of what happened with that plate bladder – one of Bobbie’s cleverest/most versatile tricks.

    My very favourite St Clares’s cover would probably be the SUMMER TERM Dean Nineties one. Because of the red and the blue and how Prudence and Pam are represented. And Carlotta has such joie de vivre on that horse.

    With the 2005 TWINS cover – I thought St Clare’s was supposed to be a NON-snobbish school? Or do they dream and imagine Ringmere and that’s what’s on the cover?


    • Fiona says:

      I’ve just noticed that the castle-like St Clare’s appears in the circle on the 2016 covers as well. It is definitely far fancier than I imagine St Clare’s (even as a private boarding school) to be.


      • And yet I have been reminded that castles in the Middle Ages [which is what these schools try to hark back to in tradition and culture] had no heat or cooling; and hardly any natural air so the rooms were draughty.

        [a woman called Athena Walker wrote about this in an article called LIFE IS NOT FAIR on substack if your readers are interested].

        Those 2016 covers!

        It does seem to be a persistent meme.

        Drawing and shrinking a stately home to castle proportions…

        There had been some speculation [Eva Rice?] that St Clare’s was based on Poor Clare’s nunnery/order.

        And also Blyton was a St Christopher’s schoolgirl. This school in its fictional form was a rival to St Clare’s.


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