Collecting: Vintage Nurse Romance

Required reading

Some years ago I lived next door to Goodwill Industries on Adelaide Street East in downtown Toronto. Those were the days! I was in and out of that place multiple times daily – for the boisterous live auctions in the basement, for the unhinged buy-the-pound shop and to dig through the colossal stockpile of books, clothing and other donations that accumulated on the second floor. Does anyone remember Shirley?

What I was most attracted to were the brightly illustrated covers of old nurse-themed romance novels. My favorites were published by the prodigious Canadian publisher Harlequin.

There is rarely a credit on the colophon for the cover illustrators. It’s difficult to discern the initials and tiny signatures on some of the covers. Most are not signed. My favorite is Paul Anna Soik, who illustrated Nurse Caril’s New Post and Doctor Garth (above) and Nurses are People (below).  Soik was from New Jersey and attended the Ontario College of Art in the 1950s.

There are some great blogs about Nurse Romance novels out there. One of my favorites includes brief profiles of the authors and also identifies some of the illustrators. Another fantastic collection can be seen at The Tiny Pineapple.

I recently came across some early collage work I did with some of the covers. In the late 80s and early 90s there was a band from Toronto called The Nancy Sinatras headed by the fabulous Bam Bam Bratty and Nurse Nancy. I took dozens of photos of them performing and made dandy little fanzine datebooks for them. You can see where I replaced the faces on the nurse romance covers with photos of Nurse Nancy.

More on The Nancy Sinatras to come!

About Ian Phillips Illustration

I am an illustrator and book designer. View all posts by Ian Phillips Illustration

2 responses to “Collecting: Vintage Nurse Romance

  • Saskia (1=2)

    Gorgeous collection. I love that even good old Perry Mason embraced the nurse genre. The artwork is quite beautiful. I wonder if any originals have survived, forgotten about in a printer’s storage cupboard? Tantalising thought! Really enjoyed the Romance Covers blog – a great read this morning with my wake-up coffees. Oh, and I cannot even imagine the joy of living right next door to a thrift shop!

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