Mike Ashworth, the Design & Heritage Manager for London Underground shares photographs of some recently discovered posters from 1956-1959. Found during recent renovations at the Notting Hill Gate tube station, the artwork isn’t accessible to the general public but thankfully they will be left in tact. View the full set on Mike’s Flickr account.
Once, long ago a child asked me, "What’s the difference between a job and a vocation?"
In my own feeble way I attempted to answer in terms both convenient and digestible, "A job is work you have to do. A vocation is what you do because it’s what you must do"
Clearly too convenient and not at all digestible I was assessed with incredulous eyes and deemed insufficient. A diagnosis I could confirm with a mix of parental pride (for it would result in independent verifications and research) and parental shame for falling so woefully shy of the mark.
Later I would be confronted. "A vocation isn’t doing things because you ‘must’. I looked it up." Chin pointed upwards in defiance and victory. "The word comes from something spiritual… or something. So a vocation is spiritual."
So it is.
Above is a preview of the stunning jacket design for the US First Edition of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. You can view a full, large version here. Go on…I’ll wait.
While the US First Edition was published in 1967, Bulgakov actually started writing the novel in 1928 but burnt the first manuscript in 1930 convinced that there could be no future as a writer in the Soviet Union. A thoroughly wonderful read I’ll not attempt a review of what many consider to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century but I will throw out a fun fact that many music lovers may already be aware of. Sympathy for the Devil as written by Mick Jaggar was inspired by The Master and Margarita (a gift from Marianne Faithfull).
All that said - can we focus on the artwork created by Mercer Mayer? I believe this to be the very same Mercer Mayer responsible for the Little Critter children’s book. I do hope this is true because I can remember as a child leafing through my sister’s copy of Little Critter and finding it utterly creepy. Having conduct the briefest of research I can’t wholely confirm this is the same M.M. but it does seem likely as Mayer had moved to New York City in 1964 where he soon persuaded editors at Harper & Row (publishers of this particular edition) to give him work as an illustrator.
This fine edition now sits proudly on a shelf awaiting the companionship of further Bulgakovs if I can find a little time to read them. I’ll really just have to make the time.