New from Bodleian Library Publishing: The Art of Elections

7 November 2011

CPA bookA striking overview of the evolution of Conservative Party election posters over the last century and their role in bringing the political message of the day to the people is the subject of a new illustrated book from Bodleian Library Publishing.

Vividly demonstrating the unique art of election posters, which blend graphic design, bold art or photography, and advertising psychology, Dole Queues and Demons reproduces nearly 200 of the 650 posters in the vast Conservative Party Archive held at the Bodleian Library, many of which have never before been shown in print.

Divided into chapters along political periods, the book highlights the changing fashions in and attitudes to advertising, design, political ideology, slogans, combativeness and above all, propriety. Each chapter includes a brief introduction discussing the major themes of the period as well as captions explaining specific issues related to the individual posters.

A foreword by advertising guru Maurice Saatchi discusses the posters from a communication and design perspective: ‘Posters are to politics what poetry is to literature: the only possible words in the only possible order. They should instantly convey the core message in a memorable way. This requires a handful of words, each of which is perfectly chosen, married to an image which reinforces them. When this happens posters can be the single defining medium of a campaign.’

Lavishly illustrated, Dole Queues and Demons gives a fascinating insight into the issues and strategies of the Conservative Party throughout the twentieth century, and up to the present day.

At a time when the advent of new media threatens to herald the end of traditional forms of mass communication, Dole Queues and Demons offers a timely retrospective of an enduring feature of the British electoral landscape.

The Conservative Party Archive (CPA) was established as a source for academic research at the Bodleian Library, Oxford in 1978. Before this, Conservative records had long been divided between the Conservative Central Office (CCO) in London and Newcastle University Library. At the Bodleian, however, the papers were consolidated, catalogued and administered by an archivist within the Library's Department of Western Manuscripts. Following its move to Oxford, the CPA was identified as a valuable source for historians interested in twentieth century economic, social and political history. It serves to complement the Bodleian's collections which include one of the four most important collections of modern political papers in Britain. More information can be found at

    Dole Queues and Demons: British Election Posters from the Conservative Party Archive

    Stuart Ball
    Foreword by Maurice Saatchi

    Product format: 160 pp, paperback, 196 colour images
    ISBN:  978 1 85124 353 2
    Price: £19.99
    Publication: 16 November 2011

    Purchase it here from the Bodleian Library Bookshop

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