Monday 22 March 2021

The Adventurous Art of Diving - Willard Price Part 1

 I've been waiting to bring you this particular post for several years now. The reason it's taken so long is I was waiting to get hold of one particular edition of  Willard Price's Underwater Adventure. I saw a small picture of the cover on ebay but it turned out the seller had a different edition. I've been checking the site regularly ever since and last week I finally saw a copy for sale and snapped it up! I'm not sure why exactly but this image of the wreck with the tiny divers next to it really grabbed me and I'm delighted to at last have a copy. (Click for a larger image).

There are plenty of copies of later editions but this first UK paperback, published in 1968, seems to be quite rare. The particular cover layout seen here, with the title in a solid block of colour, was only used for a couple of years by Brockhampton Press on their Green Knight imprint. The next cover design had the artwork filling the whole cover and while on series such as Biggles and The Famous Five they kept the same paintings, on Underwater Adventure they decided to go with something new. I guess it's more dramatic but I still prefer the wreck cover.

This edition was around throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s in a couple of different editions but it was only the typeface that changed. In 1985 a new set of covers was commissioned for the series resulting in this final Knight edition.

Underwater Adventure was the third book featuring the adventures of 18-year-old Hal Hunt and his younger brother Roger (aged 13). Their father was animal collector John Hunt and the series begins with the boys taking a year off school to take part in several expeditions for their father. 14 books were published from 1949 to 1980 and Anthony Horowitz and Mark Gatiss are among those who have said they were fans of the series.

Let's take a look at some more covers, beginning with this 1954 US first edition featuring the work of artist Peter Burchard.

I believe this next edition was published by the Children's Book Club in the UK and the jacket illustration was also used as a frontispiece.

Interior illustrations were by Pat Marriott but I'm not sure if she did the cover. Speaking of those illustrations, let's have a look at a few of them...

This last drawing was used on the cover of this New English Library hardback...

This Finnish edition is from 1973...

...while this Spanish edition is from 2005.

A change of publisher in the UK saw this 1993 cover appear...

...which was followed by this edition...

Hal and Roger featured in more underwater exploits in Diving Adventure so look out for a future post on that.

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