Cover art through the ages: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), by Agatha Christie

As you can imagine, there have been an unbelievable number of editions of this famous novel … including an “edited” version for Canadian schoolchildren to use as a text (why edited, I have no idea; nor do I have any idea why schoolchildren would be expected to study this book). My own first experience with this novel came with an undistinguished American paperback edition, but I remember finding a later printing of Pocket #5 and realizing that a first printing would have been one of the first ten paperbacks published in North America in September, 1939. Christie was also part of the first ten books published in UK Penguin greenbacks.

It’s not uncommon for me to like the Tom Adams covers of Christie paperbacks the best; here there are two versions. I prefer the one with the knife through the tweedy lapel and just a hint of blood. (There’s also two greenback versions, both shown here; the one with the text that almost overruns the words “Mystery and Crime” is the earlier and more valuable.) The most common image that cover artists seem to select as a placeholder for the actions of the book is a wing chair; I’m not sure why. Possibly the second-most common is an ornate dagger, followed by an antique telephone. According to one foreign-language edition, they think a “vegetable marrow” is a kind of pumpkin (it’s actually what Americans call a zucchini). And there’s an early Triangle reprint that, due to a stunning coincidence of font and positioning of a female figure on the cover, looks exactly like — a Nancy Drew title!

As always, hope you enjoy these. Feel free to leave me a note of your favourite, or least favourite, in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Cover art through the ages: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), by Agatha Christie

  1. Bev Hankins says:

    Hmmm. I’m having a hard time deciding. I’m partial to those Pocket Books (pocket size) editions–particularly the one beside the French edition. But then I also like the one with the lady in green looking in at Ackroyd in the library.

    • Noah Stewart says:

      I think you’ve selected Pocket #5, the first cover state (beside the French edition), and then the Triangle edition I mentioned. Triangle was an awful publisher who used the worst paper EVER; more than once I’ve had the awful experience of having a brittle page snap in half in my hands.

  2. cmikolj says:

    I think my favourite is the artwork for the first edition. I too like the Tom Adams covers; I have the one with the housemaid’s apron on it, acquired when I was a child. It took me a while to identify what it was!

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