Ian McEwan books given striking new covers in Vintage reissue

A range of artists and illustrators were invited to contribute to the collection, which includes iconic titles such as Atonement, On Chesil Beach, and Enduring Love

Vintage has announced the reissue of 18 titles written by acclaimed British author Ian McEwan. Overseen by Vintage’s creative director Suzanne Dean, the release of this latest collection hopes to bring some of McEwan’s extensive bestselling backlist to a whole new generation of readers.

The author, who just last year published “his most epic book to date”, titled Lessons, is known for his lyrical prose and works of realist fiction. Among his best known work are iconic titles such as Atonement, On Chesil Beach, and Enduring Love, all of which are included in this significant reissue.

Cover of Lessons by Ian McEwan showing a line drawing young child with cropped hair, a shirt, waistcoat, and knee high socks sat at a piano in bright orange, pink and purple colours
Top: Image from The Innocent cover
Cover of On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan showing a warm hued photo of a young person with curled hair styled in a 1940s hairdo, wearing a beige cardigan over their shoulders, and their hands placed on top of each other on the person's lap

Dean, who previously worked on the design for Lessons and who spearheaded this project, says that dealing with such important titles, and so many of them at once, requires a slow and thoughtful approach.

“When creating a series design, a designer needs to treat each title individually whilst considering how all the covers cohere,” she explains. “The ‘grid’ for McEwan’s new series look, adapted from my hardback design of Lessons, allowed me the freedom to choose close-up images on some titles and distant scenes on others. Variety not only in media, but also scale, lent a visual excitement when seen across the collection.”

Cover of Atonement by Ian McEwan showing a black and white photograph of a young person sat on steps

Dean also commissioned various artists and illustrators to interpret books within the series in their own respective styles, creating artworks for the covers so that each has a unique aesthetic whilst at the same time fitting within a wider artistic vision.

Among some of Dean’s favourite designs are the cover of Enduring Love, which features a silkscreen print of a hot air balloon by printmaker Kate Gibb; the cover of On Chesil Beach, which features a Kodachrome photograph sourced from the Anonymous Project Collection; and the cover of The Cement Garden, which features an illustration by Tina Berning that Dean says “deliciously evokes the dark subject matter and arid summer heat”.

She goes on: “It was a sheer joy to match artists with titles, to discuss an approach with the illustrator and see the final image sit beautifully alongside the other books.”

Cover of The Children Act by Ian McEwan showing a black and white close up portrait of a person's face gazing down at the camera
Cover of Solar by Ian McEwan showing a psychedelic graphic of a seascape against a sun motif represented in yellow, pink and orange concentric circles

Elsewhere, readers can find a mixture of colour and black and white photography, as well as a diverse range of illustrative approaches. Viewed as a whole, the collection evokes a feeling of timelessness, striking a balance between classic and modern styles that speaks to both the rich history and continued relevance of McEwan’s bibliography.

Commenting on this reissue of his work, the author says: “I was really impressed by these designs. The artful trick was to have different artists dream up such varied and striking images that cohere within a general scheme.”

The first set of books are on sale now, with more being released further down the line.

Cover of The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan showing an illustration of a person washed in a green hue and lying on their front wearing a strappy bikini top on a blue tiled floor
Cover of Amsterdam by Ian McEwan showing an illustration of two figures wearing long coats and trousers, one carrying an umbrella, against a hazy abstract outlines of buildings in the background
Cover of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan showing a cut out graphic of pink, yellow and purple hot air balloon with a person suspended beneath