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The fantastical dust jacket, which graces the 1920s crime novel The Mouse by Ruth Gray (A A Knopf, 1929: London), has to be a contender for the title of scariest jacket ever. It’s a dramatic pen and ink drawing depicting the head of Medusa, her hands pulling at her head of tangled snakes. The spine shows an agonised rat, its tail dangling, set against a blood-red heart. It’s rare to see a jacket designer credited but in this case there is a clear and intriguing acknowledgement identifying “Shaw” as this Medusa’s creator. The novel, apparently, relates the story of one Hilda, an ordinary women driven to attempt an horrific and extraordinary deed. Judging from the dust jacket, one suspects that she was haunted and tormented.

Gray Ruth The Mouse Jacket Design by Shaw

Frustratingly I’ve not been able to find out who “Shaw” is or whether they created other dust jackets and illustrations. I would love to know more so any information, suggestions or hints would be very gratefully received.

I’m grateful to fellow ibooknet member Stephen Foster of Foster Books for permission to use his photograph of The Mouse. Foster Books is currently offering this first edition copy of The Mouse for sale.

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