Monday, October 17, 2011

Ronald Searle's Cover Art for What am I Still Doing Here?

Just published on October 13 is Roger Lewis's new book What Am I Still Doing Here?: My Years as Me. The cover art is, of course, by Ronald Searle, who, at 91, probably has more insight into the question than even Lewis.

Ronald Searle, Book Cover for What Am I Still Doing Here?:  My years as Me by Roger Lewis

The hardcover edition is published at £11.40. According to, the paperback edition is due out on May 10, 2012 and will cost £5.99 which is actually cheaper than the virtual Kindle edition at £6.99.

Note:  You can view a lot more examples of Searle book cover art here on Matt Jones's epic Perpetua blog. 

Or, if you prefer dealing with amateurs, my most recent post on Ronald Searle's artwork is here.

October 30, 2011 Update:  Matt Jones provides a link to the framed full original artwork and preliminary sketch here.

Ronald Searle, Original Book Cover Artwork for What Am I Still Doing Here? by Roger Lewis
Ronald SearleDetail of Signature on Original Book Cover Artwork for What Am I Still Doing Here? by Roger Lewis

Image added December 2, 2012

Ronald Searle, Preliminary Artwork for What Am I Still Doing Here?

Ronald Searle, Detail of Preliminary Artwork for What Am I Still Doing Here?
Image added December 1, 2012

November 24, 2011 Update: Today's Daily Mail reveals that Ronald Searle is currently reading Roger Lewis's book, which he did not get to see a word of when designing its cover. Searle also reveals what book  he would take to a desert island (William Hogarth: A Life and a World by Jenny Uglow) which it took him over a year to read the first time around. Searle is one of the few illustrators anywhere who can legitimately be considered an heir to the likes of Hogarth, Rowlandson, and Cruikshank. 

He also mentions the chilling effect of reading Deborah Lipstadt's The Eichmann Trial.  The trial, of course, was held in Jerusalem in 1961, and at the time Searle himself covered the proceedings brilliantly for Life magazine. (His original artwork from the trial now resides in the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover.) I like the fact that Searle, now 91, who typically draws for ten hours a day, remains an avid reader. Read the article here and see the new photo of the artist.

November 27, 2011 Update: Here's a very similar drawing by Searle for an unrelated assignment:
Ronald Searle, Is Your Overdraft Crying Out for Help?
Dimensions: 15 x 12 in
Medium: pencil, pen and black ink and black wash
Christie's South Kensington, Sale 5997, Lot 530, December 7, 2010.
Presumably unsold.



  1. I'm sending for this book. I love that the yellow socks go with the question mark. But that's not what sold me. It was that quote of Gogol for openers, followed by the observation of Professor Lampenscherm in his prefatory matter, that Lewis would have been better off selling dead people's spectacle frames in a hospice charity shop. The last sent me straight to Amazon. Thank you for the wonderful educational opportunities offered here on your blog.

  2. You're very welcome, Leo. I'm a big believer in judging a book by its cover, so I commend you on your bold decision to purchase this volume. I hope you'll come back here and let us know your opinion of Roger Lewis, and whether I should purchase yellow socks.

  3. Everyone should have a pair of yellow socks, regardless of their opinion of Roger Lewis.