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So That’s What They look Like!


The artist and printmaker Phil Shaw (click here for more information) specialises in images of bookshelves with an unusual twist. In some cases the titles on the books that line his imaginary shelves are real, in others they exist only in fiction or in Phil’s mind. From those titles, and employing books that he acquires at charity shops and used-book stores, Phil uses Photoshop to create striking prints of bookshelves whose titles are based on a theme (e.g., lines from Shakespeare or Underground Tube stops).


When Edward Cazalet first suggested that Phil, a long-time Wodehouse fan, create an original print with a Wodehouse theme, the artist initially had misgivings. But then he conceived the idea of four shelves filled with the books of the many ‘renowned’ writers mentioned in PGW’s stories. To ensure he got it right, Phil enlisted the help of Norman Murphy, who gave him a lengthy list of fictional Wodehouse titles and, more importantly, identified and eliminated those titles in the canon that sounded Wodehousean but were quite real.


After choosing which titles he wanted to include on the shelves and how to represent them in book form, Phil obtained likely-looking volumes from bookstores and charity shops, scanned in the spines, removed the original titles, and replaced them with the Wodehousean titles, using appropriate fonts.



Phil has cleverly incorporated 48 imaginary titles including such classics as Strychnine in the Soup, by Horatio Slingsby; My Life on the Links, by Sandy McHoots; American Birds and More American Birds, by Alexander Worple; On the Care of the Pig, by Augustus Whiffle; and, of course, Mervyn Keene, Clubman, by Rosie M Banks. Some Wodehouse fans might be disappointed by a few absences, but when you consider that there are around 200 fictional titles in the Wodehouse canon, then you can appreciate the considerable job he had on his hands in choosing just the right titles and books to suit his four bookshelves.You can also admire his ingenuity in matching titles to books; they are so well suited and so realistic that it seems hard to believe one cannot reach out and pluck a book from the shelf.


The limited-edition 117 X 51 cm (46 X 20 in.) print is something every Wodehouse collector will want to own, though it comes at an understandably high price: £1,200 (app. $1,900). It can be purchased from the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery (click here), and if desired, it can be autographed by the artist. For further information, write to info@rebeccahossack.com.


– Elin Woodger Murphy