If it rains today it’ll be equally miserable for the next forty days or so the superstition/standing joke goes. But whoever St Swithin, or Swithun, was the feast day of the long-dead Anglo Saxon Bishop has been firmly hijacked by Emma Morely and Dexter Mayhew.
If those names, or their friendlier Em and Dex, Dex and Em, combinations, don’t send you into raptures then you probably haven’t read David Nicholls’ One Day. The novel, which topped bestsellers list and spawned a movie starring Anne Hathaway and the most questionable Yorkshire accent since, well, ever, is set entirely on St Swithin’s.
In fact, it spans 20 years and the characters’ development from gangly new graduates to early life crises and careworn late 30s, is all snapshotted through the events of 15 July every year. The author paraphrases a well-known Elizabethan rhyme as “If on St Swithin it doth rain/Something dum-di-dum again” several times in the novel. We think it’s supposed to be "St Swithin's day if thou dost rain/ For forty days it will remain/ St Swithin's day if thou be fair/ For forty days will rain na mair."
Most iconic book covers
Most iconic book covers
1/12 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Cugat designed the cover art for Fitzgerald's quintessential jazz age novel. He finished it before the book was complete and the author liked it so much he 'wrote it into' the novel.
2/12 The Godfather - Mario Puzo
This 1969 cover art was produced by S Neil Fujita and became so iconic that the gothic typeface and puppeteer's hand were used as imagery in the film too.
3/12 The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel designed this cartoon for his own 1957 children's classic.
4/12 Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James
If this cover to EL James' first erotic novel isn't one of the most iconic sleeves of recent times, we don't know what is.
5/12 The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Salinger was known for being fussy when it came to his book designs. He liked them simple with the only words being his name and the title, like this one by E Michael Mitchell.
6/12 'Porno' - Irvine Welsh
DJ Design came up with this crass cover for Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting sequel that few book-buyers could walk by without noticing.
7/12 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
American jazz musician and designer Paul Bacon created this simple yet striking cover for Heller's novel. He is also the man behind the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Slaughterhouse-Five sleeves.
8/12 One Day - David Nicholls
Craig Ward designed this bright romantic sleeve for David Nicholls' 2009 novel.
9/12 A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
David Pelham came up with this famous cover ten years after A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962.
10/12 In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
S Neil Fujita designed this crime thriller's sleeve using a classic typeface, a strong black border and a simple drop of blood. The drop was brighter at first but Capote asked for it to be made darker as time had elapsed since the murders.
11/12 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Illustrator Elmer Hader painted this by Steinbeck's request for his 1939 novel. He then created the cover art for East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, too.
12/12 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Edward McKnight Kauffer's powerful artwork represents the protagonist who is struggling to assert his identity in a world of hate.
But why did the author choose such a specific, and under the radar, saint’s day? “ The novel opens on graduation night, and 15th July is a plausible date for a graduation ceremony. I didn’t want a date that carried any weight, like 4th July or 14th February: 15th July felt suitably random,” Nicholls told the Oxonian review.
“But I also needed a date, which, when seen in a diary, might conjure up a memory for the protagonists. ‘St Swithin’s Day’ was to work as a kind of mental tag. I liked the mythology of St Swithin’s Day, which is really about our desire and inability to predict the future. Thematically that seemed right. And there’s a really beautiful melancholy song about lost love by Billy Bragg that is called 'St Swithin’s day'. To me that song was the unofficial soundtrack to the book. It helped me with the writing when I was stuck for words or tone.”
@bythewardrobe: It's St Swithin's day and it's drizzling. Time to watch one day and hope it perks up laterMiriam Goodacre (@miriamgoodacre) July 15, 2015
It is also St. Swithin's day, which means I'll be watching One Day, which in turn means I'm definitely crying today.saba (@sabasalim98) July 15, 2015
Ah, St Swithin's Day. One Day was set on this day. And I started at Waterstones 7yrs ago today #StSwithinAmy Pirt (@AmyPirt) July 15, 2015
Old Swithin of Winchester might have foretold rain but those reading One Day will be more likely to experience tears once they reach *that* part of the book. Let’s hope they don’t last for forty days.Reuse content