For Covers of the Week #101, we look at the beautiful cover art Francis Marshall designed for Barbara Cartland’s romance novels. These iconic images showcase the fashion and historical context of her captivating stories.
Before we look at the covers, we delve into the lives of careers of artist Francis Marshall and author Barbara Cartland.
Artist: Francis Marshall
Francis Marshall was a renowned artist and illustrator of the 20th century who is today mostly known for his covers for Barbara Cartland‘s romance novels.
Marshall was born in 1891 in London. His commercial artwork was trendy and culturally influential. The feminine images he featured—first for Vogue magazine and later for The Daily Mail—became known as the “Marshall Girl.” She was an elegant yet relatable ideal, with unswept hair, high cheekbones, and a lovely figure. The “Marshall Girl” was as famous in her era as the “Gibson Girl” had been decades earlier.
Marshall combined pen and ink with watercolor paints in his artistic technique. He would begin with a pencil sketch of the subject, then use a dip pen with a flexible nib and black ink to create the outlines and finer details of the drawing.
This enabled him to make a wide range of line weights and textures. Finally, he added watercolor washes with a limited color palette to add vivid hues and depth to his drawings, creating a sense of harmony and unity in the compositions.
His art style was a perfect fit for Barbara Cartland’s romance covers. Francis Marshall illustrated her books from the 1950s until 1980 when he passed away at 80.
Author: Barbara Cartland
Dame Barbara Cartland, “The Queen of Romance,” was born Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on July 9, 1901. In 1923, she published her first novel, Jigsaw. Although she wrote in various genres, her name is synonymous with sweet romances.
According to Barbara Cartland’s website, she adored Marshall’s covers for their glamour, grace, and sophistication. In turn, Marshall enjoyed creating covers for Cartland more than anyone else. He read each book to accurately represent the period clothing the hero and heroine wore.
In recognition of her contributions to literature and philanthropy, Cartland was awarded the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1991.
Dame Barbara Cartland wrote an incredible 723 books and continued to write into her nineties. 160 of those books were manuscripts that were published after her death.
Cartland passed away on May 21, 2000.
From May 15 to May 21, 2023, our Covers of the Week #101 focuses on the Francis Marshall covers for Barbara Cartland’s romance novels.
The Covers from Left to Right, Top to Bottom
- Moon Over Eden, Barbara Cartland, Corgi, 1976
- The Hell-Cat and the King, Barbara Cartland, Corgi, 1977
- The Karma of Love, Barbara Cartland, Pan, 1974
- The Marquis Who Hated Women, Barbara Cartland, Corgi, 1977
What do you think of these choices for Covers of the Week? Have you seen these covers before or read any of these books? Which of our picks do you like the best, if any?
Do you have suggestions or requests for future Covers of the Week themes you’d like to see on Sweet Savage Flame? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to create a gallery of stunning art!
Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.
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3 thoughts on “Covers of the Week#101: Francis Marshall and Barbara Cartland”
Thanks, Jacqueline. I seriously love Francis Marshall’s illustrations. He captured better than any other artist what Barbara Cartland’s romances are all about. Her heroes and heroines really come to life on his covers.
What’s more, Marshall had such a unique style! I doubt his works can be mistaken for anyone else’s. How I wish we had romance illustrators nowadays who follow in Marshall’s footsteps!
These are so beautiful with that edge of strangeness that makes Marshall’s work so riveting. Surprisingly there are 1 or 2 vintage Mills & Boon covers that may be Marshall but I’m not quite sure…
To clarify, there are a bunch of M&B covers that absolutely are Marshall, but even the really distinctive artists can occasionally be elusive.