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cornelia otis skinner

Some amazing facts do turn up in pre World War II books and some great illustrators as well. Dithers and Jithers was written in 1938 by  the author, playwright, socialite and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner  (1899-1979), shown above, who studied at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She starred in a number of movies and wrote novels and short essay compilations.

The interesting story here is about the illustrator of the book, the Russian/American painter Constantin Alajalov (1900-1987) who moved to the United States in 1926. His illustrative work included 70 covers for the New Yorker Magazine and many covers for the Saturday Evening Post (1945-1962). He also taught at the Alexandre Archipenko School in New York for a number of years and he painted 3 murals for the SS America cruise ship in 1941.

Illustrated books also include: Aurora Dawn (1947) the first novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk, better known for his book The Caine Mutiny which was made into a splendid movie with Humphrey Bogart and for the book Winds of War.

img170The grey cloth book with a doodle on the cover has  lovely purple endpapers with a humorous illustration.

img171The book featured here, lightheartedly, shows us the era from the socialite’s point of view while revealing also some curious gossip about actors, writers and artists to boot. Constantin Alajalov was really an avowed modernist who designed hooked rugs for the entrepreneur and art critic Ralph M. Pearson (1883-1958). There are in fact modernist scarves designed by Alajalov today.

More on that story here.img174img175img176 img177 img178 img179 img180 img181 img182 img183Top photo credit: Wikipedia, all illustrations from the book.

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