28th July 2016 will be the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Helen Beatrix Potter, better known as Beatrix Potter. Her life-long love of animals and the natural world began as a child when she and her brother had many 'pets' including rabbits, mice and frogs which would one day become the subjects of some of her books. Her love of the countryside was developed during family holidays in Scotland and later in the Lake District. In later life she would settle in the Lake District and bought several farms which she would bequeath to the National Trust thus preserving the countryside.
A good friend of mine - Amy Goddard - is a folk singer and has recently released her second Album – “Secret Garden”.
I asked her why “Secret Garden” and she said it was because she loved the book and also she loves 'secret' places where you can escape for peace and quiet.
As a child The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books as well so I thought I would feature it in this month's article.
Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and first published in 1911 the story begins when Mary Lennox, a spoilt young girl living in India, loses her parents to a severe plague of cholera and is forced to go and live with her mysterious uncle (Archibald Craven) in his large manor house (Misselthwaite Manor) on the Yorkshire Moors.
A delightful, descriptive story in verse. Originally written and illustrated by A.J. Macgregor, the verses in this Ladybird book were later revised by Walter Perring.
Bunnikin's Picnic Party tells the story of little Bunnikin and his brothers and sisters, Loppy, Fluff, Bobtail and Whiskers. Bunnikin decides one day that 'A picnic would be grand!' With their picnic all prepared by Mrs. Bunnikins, the four bunnies hop off to enjoy some fun near the 'shady woodland'.
Bobtail comes running to them when they are wood gathering 'Her excitement was intense: "Robbers, Fluff!" she stammered, breathless, "I could hear them, by the fence!" But brave Fluff finds out it's not robbers but a sleeping Pig!
This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs - a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker -Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.
After hearing stories about his great-great-grandfather who had been a great race horse, Merrylegs begins to think that "he was much too well-born to work".
The story continues with a trip with the farmer to the market, where it was 'Fair Day'. Even though still feeling above his work, Merrylegs begins to enjoy the fair day, watching all the comings and goings, hearing the happy music playing and even a Punch and Judy show! It is at the fair day that the little pony finally realizes what it is that he should become in life. He notices a roundabout and to his great surprise, it is not chairs that the children are riding on - but horses - "What horses!". 'These were lordly creatures, with proud, flashing eyes, and wide nostrils. Their long manes and tails floated out behind them, their fore-feet pawed the air, and they had coats of scarlet, with here and there a touch of gold'.
I am afraid I am biased, I LOVE Dr. Seuss' stories. What do I like about them? Mostly the nonsense rhyming as the story is told – sometimes it is very silly e.g Green Eggs and Ham ('Do you like green eggs and ham?' - anyone in their right mind would say no!). Also, the simple, colourful illustrations that accompany each story play as much a part as the text.
The Lorax is story with a moral... The plight of our Earth and the damage we humans can do...
This month's Featured Book is strictly speaking 3 books, but they do come in one slipcase, published by the Folio Society.
The illustrations are by Patrick Leger, who gives all three volumes a fabulous fifties vintage look.
It has been a long while since I have read these books. I probably read them in my early teens and if my memory serves me right, it was my first foray into the world of Science Fiction books.
When I looked at the John Wyndham bibliography, I realised that I must have liked his writing quite a lot as I have read six novels and two books of short stories.
Exploration. Curiosity. Mystery. All of these ideas are often central to a good adventure narrative, and all of them are very much plain in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: the tale of a scientist, his manservant and a witty whaler, all three of them captured by a mysteriously glowing vessel beneath the deep and taken forth into a whole new world by the mysterious and captivating Captain Nemo.
20,000 Leagues is considered to be one of Verne's best-known books, along with A Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and Around The World In 80 Days, but since 1979, Verne has been the second most widely-translated author in the world, in between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare, and he's often named as one of the primary fathers of modern science fiction – Verne has in his writing an incredible penchant for describing a foreign aspect of the world in a way that pulls the reader indescribably.
Those of you who know us personally will remember that three years ago my husband Cliff and I sold our house, gave away most of our possessions, bought a truck and fifth wheel trailer and became nomads! We have since toured through France, Spain and Portugal and loved every minute of it, which is why this particular book caught my eye – Caravanning and Camping – but in 1933! I wondered how much has changed in the last 80 years since the book was published.
The concept of caravanning as a leisure pastime was unheard of until the Scottish author Gordon Stables, having admired the gipsy wagons in his neighbourhood, embarked on a life as a self-styled Gentleman Gipsy. The two-ton 'Land-Yacht Wanderer', a Pullman carriage drawn by two horses, was designed by Stables and built by the Bristol Waggon company. In 1885 Stables set off on his journeys of 1300 miles taking him around England and finally to Inverness in Scotland. But that's a subject for another article – back to our book of Caravanning and Camping in 1933.
This exquisite book has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A treasured possession of my late mother from her own childhood, I remember it so vividly: the sheer overwhelming scale of it when you're three years old, the crackle of the spine, oh! the smell of the paper. For many years I remember it being stored in the bottom of my parents' wardrobe, protected from sunlight and daily knocks.
Despite the fact that I had grown up with this book, I knew very little about it apart from the suspicion that it dated from either the late forties or early fifties, and seemed to be quite rare. Certainly, I had never seen another copy until I started work at Stella Books and saw a copy in our Special Book Room. It was then that I discovered that it is quite hard to find original copies that retain their dustjackets, and that the book is much sought by collectors.
Being specialists in children's books, Kenneth Grahame is most well known to us as the author of The Wind in the Willows - with its many editions, illustrated; abridged; old and modern. However, what of Grahame's other works?
We recently acquired a collection of books into stock by Kenneth Grahame, so it was time for me to learn a little more about his other works as well.
Grahame started out by writing essays which were published in magazines such as St. James Gazette, the National Observer and the Yellow Book. A selection of these essays featured a family of orphaned children and their guardians.
I first encountered Ian Allan in 1961. I should make it clear that I never actually met the man himself, indeed at that time I doubt I realised there was an Ian Allan. No, my encounter was through his ABC series of locomotive listing books, the first of which was published in 1942.
Michael Morpurgo has written over 100 books, many of them based on actual events. He weaves the events into his stories, mixing in facts with fiction to create memorable tales. So, for example, 'Running Wild' tells of a boy who survives the Indonesian Tsunami and 'Out of the Ashes' is the story of a family struggling to survive the foot and mouth crisis. Several of his books deal with aspects of war in a way that get across the facts and just what is was like to live through - 'War Horse' being perhaps the most well known of these. 'The Mozart Question' features the Second World War and one particular horrific aspect of it – the concentration camp. But it also shows how music helped some people to survive these atrocities.
"The alternative small run publication has often dazzled, always relentlessly focused on changing the way we look at the printed page. Looking haughtily over its shoulder to fleur's flair, Visionaire rolls up its sleeves, cups its hands to its mouth, flexes it muscles and whispers, "The eyes have it."
- David Bowie
This particular issue of the highly collectible, multi-format, luxury art and fashion publication based in New York City, with its heavily embellished, gilded and incredibly ornate cover, was inevitably going to appeal to the magpie in me! I have an unashamed love of all things 'baroque' and when this issue came into the office amongst other art books purchased at a recent auction, I was immediately drawn to its luminous gold exterior and intrigued to learn what treasures it might reveal upon closer inspection of the contents. Beneath the hologrammed, embossed, and foil-stamped sun motif hides a shallow box of curiosities, each more intriguing than the last and each with its own unique take on the theme of 'gold', including: Seven pages of Philip Taaffe’s gold stars foil stamped onto vellum, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s fashion photographs featuring gold-foil stamping to four-color prints Origami USA, who folded a gold-paper goldfish for each issue and, my personal favourite, Todd Oldham's contribution of an actual gilded-metal halo!
This work is published in three parts, each part consisting of two volumes. Our featured book is Part One and is complete with the two volumes. Anyone familiar with Lansdowne Editions will know them for their sheer size and wonderful illustrations. This is not a book that you can curl up with on a cold winter's evening in front of the fire, you can, however, sit at a table and peruse the volumes in front of a nice warm fire! (Of course, the fire does not have to be there in order for you to enjoy these elephantine volumes – one alone weighing 5.8kg!!).
This is the Collector's Issue and only issue of the first edition of Kingfishers and Related Birds. Limited to 1000 copies and signed by the author: Joseph M. Forshaw, an Australian ornithologist with particular expertise in parrots, and by the illustrator: William T. Cooper a renowned Australian nature artist, this is copy 791. Included with the books is also a signed limited edition plate reproduced from the second volume.
This catalogue was produced to accompany an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool at the end of 1994. The exhibition focused on self portraits from the Walker Gallery itself but included many paintings from around the British Isles.
Self-portraiture was a popular method of painting, it was also cheap and you could always rely on the sitter! The popularity of the Self-Portrait went hand in hand with the technology of developing non distorting mirrors, flat mirrors, thus enabling an artist to view themselves better. It was the 17th century that saw the real boom in self-portraiture and one of the most prolific artists of self-portraiture, Rembrandt van Rijn (below centre as young man, right as old man).
The story, which starts in London on a snowy New Year's Day, is about two friends who are apprentices to pawnbrokers. Amos Coot, a sixteen year old in the fourth year of his apprenticeship, works for Mr. Thompson – Personal Banking on Moderate Terms. Jeremiah Snipe is apprentice to Mr Long – Loans arranged for Modest Security.
The two friends have been left in charge of their respective shops by their employers who have gone away to the country for the festive period. Both apprentices have been trained by ruthless employers. In Mr Thompson's words ' A pawner is a man in difficulties and a man in difficulties is a man in despair. Despair makes a man untrustworthy, it turns him into a liar, a swindler, a cheat'. He maintains that they always tell you they will return to redeem their item - that it is only a loan they are having. 'But like tomorrow, they never come' he adds 'So you watch out!'
Our Darlings "The Best Monthly Magazine For Young Folks"
We recently purchased a collection of annuals from auction. In among them were a few copies of “Our Darlings”. These annuals really stood out to me as they are attractive books with pictorial front covers and illustrated by well known artists of the time (the editions we purchased were from the early 1900's).Above: Example of front cover, and Leigh Kidman illustration
This week, while packing up to move house – I've been going through my bookcase to see which books to give away (none so far) and I came across my facsimile copy of 'Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens' by J.M. Barrie and illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
Originally published in 1906, Barrie utilises many chapters of 'The Little White Bird' (published in 1902), with only a few changes in text. 'The Little White Bird' was seen as a novel for adults, where Peter Pan is introduced, but 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' was produced purely as a children's book, with stunning illustrations to match.
Issued in 1982, it was printed with Laminate boards, with the image of 4.5 Litre Bentley, Vanden Plas to the front cover. There was only one issue of this particular observer, making it one of the harder to find books.
It contains A foreword by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, and has 11 colour and 45 black and white photographs, 184 printed pages. The format of the book is an A-Z guide. . This is the Partner book to The observer's book of Classic Cars, which deals with the post war classics. The last book to be listed on the rear cover is No. 82 Gardens
Firstly let me introduce you to Flight Officer Joan Worralson, known to her friends as 'Worrals'. She is a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (W.A.A.F.) the female section of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) established in real life in 1939. From the earlier book Worrals of the W.A.A.F. we learn that Worrals's job is supposed to be ferrying aeroplanes from one airfield to another, mainly for maintenance reasons, and she was not in any circumstances to engage in combat.