Bruce Pennington

Bruce Pennington
Bruce Pennington Bruce Pennington

Bruce Pennington is a British painter, perhaps best known for his science fiction and fantasy novel cover art.

Pennington's first science fiction book cover was a commission in 1967 for Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. This led to many other SF covers for New English Library with whom for a while he felt he had found his artistic home, becoming one of their foremost cover artists. Not least of their commissions were for Frank Herbert's Dune series, but he worked for many other publishers and authors too.

In the early 70s Pennington moved on to Horror fiction, illustrating covers for authors such as Arthur Machen, H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith. These dark and violent fantasies led to a misconception at the time that Pennington himself was some kind of gloomy pessimist. 'But the opposite is true,' he once said. 'These pictures are not my personal nightmares, just a subject for painting.' In practice his general demeanor is one of cheerful optimism.

Pennington's walk on the dark side culminated with the publication in 1977 of Eschatus, his interpretation in words and pictures of the prophecies of Nostradamus. This was a very satisfying though exhausting project, after which he returned to book cover illustration with some relief.

The work that then came along was mostly in the Fantasy vein, for authors like Philip Jose Farmer, Gene Wolfe, Eric van Lustbader and A.E van Vogt.

Towards the end of the 80s Pennington moved away from commercial illustration in favour of more personal work, a chapter of which can be seen in Ultraterranium, a collection of his work published by Paper Tiger in 1991. Click on the link at the top of the page to see a selection of pictures from the book.

Other collections of his work published by Paper Tiger were The Bruce Pennington Portfolio 1990, containing 28 large-format (A3) prints, and a miniature book in 1994 with 20 exquisite little spreads.
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