Monday, October 02, 2006



Chris Beetles Gallery, London 25-Oct-2006 until 11-Nov-2006

Chris Beetles presents an exhibition of original artwork from An exciting creative collaboration between the bestselling novelist and Britainís premier post-war illustrator and cartoonist. Jeffrey Archerís new book of short stories will contain 49 images by Ronald Searle. This includes 12 colour portraits, 36 smaller inserts and the fantastical front cover. All images from the book will be on sale at the Chris Beetles gallery along with a major retrospective including a further 120 original Searle illustrations.

This has been a year in which Britain has recognised the idiosyncratic genius of Ronald Searle, through two television features and a special extended interview on BBC Radio Fourís Desert Island Discs. Cat O'Nine Tales comprises twelve short stories; the inspiration for nine of which came from Jeffrey Archer's time in prison. Signed books will be available from the gallery Standard hardback version £16.99 illustrated coloured edition £25.00

from It Can't Be October Already. This is the story of a man who always spent November to March in jail, because he didn't like spending the winter months sleeping rough.

From Jeffrey Archer's blog:

' I'm now able to show you one of the colour pictures, to give you a taste of what the other 48 will be like. Remembering there are 12 short stories (nine picked up while I was in prison), ironically the one I've chosen is to illustrate a story that I came across in Rome quite recently. It's the tale of an Italian footballer who marries an extremely fat woman, with an ending that I hope will make people laugh. It's called In the Eye of the Beholder.'

· Jeffrey Archer is a lifelong fan of illustrator Ronald Searle, who was responsible for the look of both St Trinian's and Nigel Molesworth. Archer owns several original Molesworth cartoons, and has a scary-looking Searle cat hanging in the breakfast room of his Thames penthouse apartment. So when he decided to call his latest short-story collection Cat O' Nine Tales, he immediately thought of asking Searle to provide accompanying illustrations. Despite warnings that the reclusive 86-year-old would never agree, he won him over. Archer sent him three-line synopses of the 12 stories, many of which are based on anecdotes from prisoners he met while serving his sentence for perjury; Searle quickly turned out 12 title page images and 36 smaller illustrations. Archer is delighted with the results: "He's the illustrators' illustrator, and it's an honour and a privilege to be collaborating with him." Macmillan will publish a full-colour £25 gift edition in time for Christmas, to please the writer's loyal fans. Archer has already agreed with Searle's agent to buy the originals of all the illustrations, although Macmillan has spent a substantial sum and will retain the copyright.
(From the Guardian website)

Searle sells out at a stroke

Jeffrey Archer's new book, Cat O'Nine Tales, will no doubt receive the usual "mixed" reviews from the critics, but the illustrations have already proved a best-seller.

Lord Archer persuaded Ronald Searle, the 86-year-old artist best known for his St Trinian's cartoons, to illustrate the short-story collection, and 36 originals go on display at the Chris Beetles gallery, in St James's, this week.

"As we were hanging them, a man came in from the street to have a sneak preview," Mr Beetles tells me. "He said he was a book collector and big fan of Searle's work and had heard on the grapevine about the exhibition. After a quick look, he bought all 36 for a total of £49,000."

Not all the book's illustrations were available, however. Archer, a great admirer of Searle, had craftily already snapped up the cover design and chapter headings.

Mandrake column, Telegraph 22/10/2006