Leicester

Joe Orton defaced book cover prints go on sale

Joe Orton book covers Image copyright Joe Orton Estate/Islington Local History Centre
Image caption Joe Orton and his partner Kenneth Halliwell were jailed in 1962 after defacing book covers at a library in Islington

Prints of library book covers defaced by playwright Joe Orton will go on sale to help raise funds for a statue in his hometown.

The rebellious Leicester-born playwright was jailed after he and his partner Kenneth Halliwell vandalised books at a library in Islington.

A campaign for a statue of Orton - who was murdered by Halliwell in 1967 - has already received celebrity backing.

More than £50,000 has been raised as part of the appeal.

Image copyright Joe Orton Estate/Islington Local History Centre
Image caption The altered covers are seen as subversive art by Orton fans

Orton and Halliwell were sent to prison in 1962 for causing "malicious damage" to the books.

The prison sentence was one of a number of controversies in the playwright's short career, when he penned plays such as Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot.

Artist Christian Furr - who remastered the book covers and is also selling artwork in aid of the statue at an auction in Shoreditch on 19 November - said the book covers still influence artists today.

"At first glance [they are] seemingly done for their own amusement but they happened over the course of two years and show clear intent," he said.

"They are valid works of art to my mind and add to the tradition of collage and situationism."

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Media captionJoe Orton: The life and work of a "social and sexual rebel"

Among the actors to back the bid for a statue in Leicester are Alec Baldwin, Kenneth Cranham - who starred in a West End production of Loot in 1966 - Stephen Fry, Sheila Hancock and Sir Ian McKellen.

Leonie Orton said it would "mean the world" to see her brother honoured in their hometown.

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