Vintage Treasures: The White Bird of Kinship Trilogy by Richard Cowper

Vintage Treasures: The White Bird of Kinship Trilogy by Richard Cowper

The Road to Corlay-small A Dream of Kinship-small A Tapestry of Time-small

A lot of people were talking about Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay just as I was discovering fantasy in the late 70s. It appeared in the UK in 1978, and was published in paperback in the US by Pocket Books in 1979, with a striking cover by Don Maitz (above left). It was nominated for the British Fantasy Award in 1979, and both the Nebula and Balrog awards in the US a year later. It also placed 7th on Locus’s annual lists for Best SF novel.

I wasn’t even aware it was a series until many years later, as I gradually stumbled on the sequels. Volume two, A Dream of Kinship, was published in 1981, and A Tapestry of Time followed in 1982. The cover artist of the second volume is unknown, but Don Maitz returned for the third book (above right). Click on any of the images for bigger versions.

Richard Cowper was a pen name for John Middleton Murry, Jr, a UK author who died in 2002 — of a broken heart, according to his friend Christopher Priest, following the death of his wife Ruth four weeks earlier. He wrote several other SF and fantasy novels, the most famous of which was probably The Twilight of Briareus (1974); his other titles included Clone (1972), Time Out of Mind (1973), Worlds Apart (1974), and Profundis (1979) (see our coverage of his other US releases here). I found the complete trilogy in the estate of my sister-in-law Mary, who passed away in May, and brought it home with me to read for the first time. We shared an interest in SF and fantasy, and these books remind me of her.

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Thomas Parker

I remember seeing these books when they were new, but never picking them up; not enough time, not enough money. That’s the awful – and the great – thing about SF/fantasy/horror – the whole fantastic literature field. You’ll never get to read everything you want to read…so there’s always something great to read! (And I swear that’s George C. Scott on that “Dream of Kinship” cover. That was his reaction when they told him he wasn’t getting a royalty on the paperback sales…)

Aonghus Fallon

The trilogy is available on Kindle, too.


I will go out on a limb and guess Wayne D. Barlowe as the cover artist for volume two. Volume three really does not look like Maitz.

Sarah Avery

I didn’t know there was a John Middleton Murry, Jr. His father was Katherine Mansfield’s husband, and shepherded her short stories into publication after she died. There’s ambivalence about him among Mansfield scholars, but considering that most women writers of her generation went through a decade or two of being totally forgotten after their deaths, he took pretty good care of her posthumous career.

Sounds like a fascinating series. I’ll have to check it out.

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