Elaine Duillo was the undisputed “Queen of Historical Romance” covers. She was a giant in the competitive field of pulp fiction artwork, where women were few and far between. Duillo painted hundreds of book covers, was an inductee of the Illustrators Hall of fame, and was the matriarch of a talented artistic family. She passed away on July 30, 2021, at the age of 93.
This amazing cover artist influenced generations of illustrators, revolutionized romance cover art, and helped give rise to the pop culture phenom Fabio. Pictured is one of Elaine’s most-loved covers, Defy Not the Heart, and it is also my all-time favorite cover. Although she created many gorgeous stepbacks, or “tip-ins,” as those in the industry called them, Duillo was not a fan. She believed the eye-catching covers she designed for romance novels were meant to be seen, not hidden away. Yes, to that! I say. Those gorgeous jackets should be displayed proudly, not covered like some dirty secret!
We at Sweet Savage Flame lament her passing. Our thoughts and sympathy are with her family. We celebrate Elaine Duillo’s life as she brought much joy and beauty to countless tens of millions of readers worldwide.
Here is a small sampling of my favorite romance covers painted by the late, great Elaine Duillo for this week of Monday, August 16 – Sunday, August 22, 2021.
This Side of Heaven, Katherine Robards, Dell, 1991, (Interior stepback)