Ugly, Lovely

for Parthian Books

Services included: Cover design, interior design and typesetting

The journey: When journalist Hilly Janes discovered a scrapbook that had belonged to her aunt Ethel Ross, a friend of Dylan Thomas, she learned that Ethel had set out on a mission after the poet’s death to photograph the places that were important to him. The photos were all taken on her Box Brownie camera, printed out and glued into a lined teacher’s notebook, with short notes about Dylan’s work, or the people she’d met during her trips. Parthian approached us to help Hilly edit the photos and work out how to take Ethel’s scrapbook – so tactile and personal and aged – and present it in a modern context.

We designed the pages and cover to be as minimal as possible, allowing huge double page spreads for Ethel’s photos, and using her handwritten notes instead of typewritten captions. We also had some essays and other elements to include (the book includes the first UK publication of Dylan’s little-known script Lunch at Mussolini’s), but needed to keep the page count within a specific range to keep print costs reasonable. So, for the text-heavy pages, we created a three-column design that flowed around inset images without looking too dense.

The book was to be published in hardback format, so we designed a wrap-around dust jacket, underneath which we added silver foiling to the dark grey of the spine (which is so gorgeous we decided to use a photo of it on our home page).

Hilly says: ‘It was a pleasure working on Ugly, Lovely with Lucy at Head & Heart. After an initial introduction from the publisher, Parthian Books, we planned the whole project together from start to finish, and as the editor it was great to work so closely on the design and production of the book. Lucy is extremely professional and well-organised, but also creative, very responsive and was sensitive in the handling of sixty-year-old archive photographs. I was delighted with the overall look and quality of the finished book.’

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