Friday, October 30, 2009

Book memories meme

The following meme comes from Kirsty at Other Stories

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest.

As with most people this will be a children's book probably one of my Dean Reward Classics like The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.

A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time).

Frederica by Georgette Heyer. When I was thirteen my mum passed me a copy and said, "I think you'll enjoy this." And I did! I have read and re-read all Heyer's works. They are great stress-busters. They are also a wonderful prelude to Jane Austen. I am sure I 'got' Austen more quickly in my teens because I had read so much Heyer. The moment when my mother passed me Frederica is also a reminder of how reading is a kind of club. When you share a literary habit with someone it is a real bond.

A book you acquired in some interesting way.

My habits of acquisition are very boring. I have not found books belonging to an author under the sofa like Kirsty did, though I have sold books back to their authors on more than one occasion, not unlike the old J R Hartley advert for Yellow Pages.

The book that’s been with you to the most places.

I was going to suggest another one of my childhood books but, thinking about it, my childhood books probably stayed in the family home when I was away at university, so the one that has been with me most is probably an early adult acquisition from my late teens, either Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon or the Gone to Earth by Mary Webb.

Your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next.

My last read was Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. I am re-reading a lot of Christie at the moment, in the order in which she wrote them. My current read is Arthur and George by Julian Barnes and my next read will probably be another Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit.

If you have a go at this meme on your own blog please leave me a message in the comments, or if you don't blog please feel free to do this meme yourself in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'A Slap in the Face of Public Taste': Russian Avant - Garde Books

Marijana Dworski Books has recently purchased some 200 Russian books from the library of the late Alan Bird (author of 'The History of Russian Painting', 1987). Rather than written content, the main criterion for inclusion of most of the books in the collection was the value of the graphic design - visual rather than literary interest. Within the term 'avant-garde' our scope is quite wide, and we have included here books from Russia's Silver Age, the Futurism of the 1910s, the Constructivism of the 1920s to photomontage and the photography of Rodchenko. The poetry of the Symbolists Blok and Bely is included in specially illustrated editions by prominent avant-garde graphic artists of the time, such as the then notorious poem , 'The Twelve' illustrated as a quarto third edition by Annekov. Chekhonin, a prolific graphic artist, is well represented. Also present is a famous edition of the Kalevala, published in 1933 and illustrated by the school of Filonov (founder of Analytic art). This copy is still in its very scarce lithographed dust-wrapper. Two rare books designed and written by Vladimir Mayakovsky are included as well as a copy of Novy Lef, the avant-garde magazine edited by Mayakovsky with a Rodchenko design to its front cover and early photographs of its inside.

Please see Dworski Books and click on our Russian Avant-Garde catalogue on the lefthand side. We have only catalogued about a quarter of this collection so far but we have photos of all the books and will email more images on request. We welcome your input and questions.

From the top the images shown here are:

1. Vladimir Mayakovsky (written and ills.): Flying Proletarian. Moscow, 1925

2. Aleksandra Ekster (cover illustration): The Art of Degas. Moscow, 1922

3. A. Lentulov (cover illustration): Kamensky, Verse. Moscow 1919.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chelsea Bookfair

The ABA's Chelsea Book Fair is on the 6th and 7th November at Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road. This year it features an exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Fitzgerald's translation of Rubayait of Omar Khayam.

Our very own Stephen Foster will be on Stand 31 which is in the main hall in the left aisle.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book of the Week


Published: Frederick Warne & Co., 1913

Edition: First Edition

Binding: Hardback

1st edition, Green boards, brown lettering, pictorial onlay to front cover. 53 pages. Colour illustrations. Small format., Book condition VG, Corners lightly bumped and rubbed. Small mark to verso of one plate. A few tiny spots to front cover. A nice bright copy of the first edition. Stock number: 584663. £ 300.00 ( approx. $US 479.73 )

The first edition of this less well known of Beatrix Potter's works is being sold by Stella Books, and if your budget doesn't stretch to a first edition they also have this:


Published: Frederick Warne & Co Ltd., 1985

Binding: Hardback , with Dustjacket

White glazed pictorial boards. Colour illustrations., Book condition Fine, Dust jacket condition nearly fine, A few grubby marks to pictorial wrapper.Stock number: 808032. £ 5.00 ( approx. $US 8.00 )

Friday, October 23, 2009

Twitter and reading

There has been an interesting article in The Bookseller which suggests that Twitter and Facebook are not places people go for serious book recommendations. For most people I would imagine that this is true quite simply because most people don't use them for anything. I admit to an adversion for Facebook but Twitter is a very interesting place for book discussion despite the 140 character limit of each of the posts on there. Twitter has a search facility and you can use #ilovethisbook or #fridayreads in the search box to see what people are recommending. For those who can't face trying Twitter then I have picked out a few I have seen recommended this evening:

from @meandmybigmouth (the publisher Scott Pack)

"The Blue Fox by Sjon. Short. Evocative. Moving. Icelandic. And a quote from Bjork on the cover."


"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen. Even more spellbinding than the movie."

from @BristolPrize

"Mention again for What Good are the Arts? by John Carey- brave, stimulating, can be a life-changer. keep returning to it"

from @stevenha11

"Nam Le's The Boat. A beautiful book near the top of my "I wish I'd written that" list. Check it out. Seriously, go now."

I haven't read a book yet simply because I read about it on Twitter, but I do have one on my wish list The Tsar's Dwarf by Peter H. Fogtdal who tweets and blogs as Danish Novelist. I don't think I would have heard of this book had I not been on Twitter but it sounds fascinating and when I do get my paws on a copy it will be because of those 140 character long posts.

Have you read or bought any book mainly because of coming across it on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Book - Neglected Classics

BBC Radio 4's programme Open Book is running a Neglected Classics series where established authors champion an under-rated title from the past.

The books championed are:

The Polyglots by William Gerhardie

The Rector's Daughter by F M Mayor

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Many Dimensions by Charles Williams

Esther Waters by George Moore

The Quest for Corvo by A J A Symons

Rasselas by Samuel Johnson

Carol by Patricia Highsmith

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

Miss Mackenzie by Anthony Trollope

You can read more about the Neglected Classics series, vote, and suggest your own neglected favourites here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain

Long Barn Books, the publishing house owned and run by novelist Susan Hill have started selling this coffee mug with the wonderful Louisa M. Alcott quotation on it: "She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain". I am rather taken with it and shall drop heavy hints for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bookfair news

Simon French, who specialises in modern first editions, is exhibiting at two bookfairs. The first is at Cirencester and is run by the PBFA. It is on Sunday 25th October at Bingham Hall, King Street, GL7 1JT Tel: 01285 653313. There are refreshments available and access for the disabled.

Times: 10-4 Admission: £1

Simon will also be attending the independent Churchdown bookfair in Gloucester shire on Sunday 1st November. It is at Churchdown Community Centre, Parton Road, Churchdown, Gloucester.

Times: 10.00am - 3.30pm Admission 50p

The book shown is a signed first edition of Babel Tower by A. S. Byatt .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book of the Week

Addey, David and Daniell, William

A Voyage round Great Britain: Sheerness to Land's End

Published: Staplehurst, Spellmount, 1995

Edition: First Edition; First Printing

Binding: Hardcover

Very clean, tightly bound book with no inscriptions, in a bright unclipped dustjacket, which has a short (less than ½") closed tear at the foot of the spine. 160 pages, 74 colour and 74 b/w plates, bibliography, index. The first of 4 books following the route of William Daniell, and comparing the views which he engraved between 1813 and 1823 with Addey's watercolours of what can be seen now, Fine in Very Good dust jacket Stock number: 24702. ISBN: 1873376340

£ 20.00 ( approx. $US 31.98 )

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mr Lockwood's Confusing Christmas - Brontë Parsonage Event

Advance warning of an interesting sounding day out: Mr Lockwood’s Confusing Christmas

Saturday 12 December - Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

It’s Christmas and characters from the Brontës’ novels have escaped the pages of their books and been let loose in the Parsonage, where mayhem unfolds. What would happen if Mr Rochester met Cathy under the mistletoe, or Jane Eyre came across Heathcliff in the graveyard with a shovel? And when will Nelly Dean sort out that strange laughter coming from the attic?Event takes place throughout the day. Free on admission to the museum.

Read more on the Brontë Parsonage events here.

The cover image shown is a Dean's Classics Series, abridged edition, from the stock of Stella & Rose's Books.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Page 56 Meme

An easy blogging meme from Victorian Geek:

•Grab the nearest book.
•Open it to page 56.

• Find the fifth sentence.
•Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Don’t dig for your favourite book, the coolest book, or the most intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Well the closest book to me is the one I've just catalogued: Last Letters Home edited by Tamasin Day-Lewis. The fifth sentence on p.56 is rather poignant:

I remember going out and playing golf and saying to myself "Look at this shot Mick," and feeling he was there.

Last Letters Home is a mixture of letters and biography from World War Two. The above was from the chapter, "Flora Scott and her brother Mick". Mick, formally a school teacher, was in the RAF and his final letter shows his love of flying and sense of freedom and is very reminiscent of the war poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The London Book Trade Exhibition

Mike Tsang's exhibition The London Book Trade, a series of photographs of London book dealers and their books, is now showing at Biblion. "The environments the book dealers inhabit... often have distinct characters of their own," says Mr Tsang. Whilst I aspire to the beautiful shelves of Bernard Shapero, my reality is rather more that of Maggs Brothers' basement.

Sitting rather more elegantly somewhere in between, is Ibooknet's Stephen Foster, who is the subject of one of the portraits.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Local History in the East Riding of Yorkshire

The annual Local History Book Fair will be held on Saturday, 17 October, at Beverley Minster while an autumn programme of local history lectures and garden tours will start on Monday, 19 October.

The Local History Book Fair, which has been running for the past 23 years, provides a focal point in an historic setting for people who have an interest in local and family history.

Around 30 organisations will be participating in the event, including the archives and local studies service, museums and library services, local history societies, family history societies, other special interest organisations relating to the locality and region, as well as publishers and booksellers. Combined, they encompass the full range of local studies and family history resources available in the East Riding of Yorkshire area.

The event provides a unique opportunity to buy a wide range of books both old and new, pamphlets, maps and other ephemera produced by these organisations – as well as the chance to meet and mingle with the experts of the region.

The Local History Book Fair is open from 10am until 4pm, admission is free, homemade refreshments are available in the Minster Parish Rooms and guided roof tours of the Minster will be organised at set times throughout the day.

News supplied by East Riding Books whose Yorshire books can be viewed here.

And Another Thing ...: Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three

Today sees the publication of the latest installment in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' series. And Another Thing ...: Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three by Eoin Colfer is published on the thirtieth anniversary of the first book and eight years after the series creator, Douglas Adams, died. Eoin Colfer is best known for his Artemis Fowl series and was approved as the new writer by Jane Belson, Adam's widow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eastward Ho! - Dornford Yates' lost play

There has always seemed to be some mystery about the existence of a musical play by the novelist Dornford Yates (real name Cecil William Mercer) amongst his enthusiastic readers. It remained so until 1982 when his biographer, A. J. Smithers, included it in his list of the works of Dornford Yates. There it is shown as the author's second work, published in 1919 and titled 'Eastward Ho!', a musical comedy, written in conjunction with Oscar Asche.

Some reference sources refer to this play as a revival of the play of the same name by Ben Jonson, George Chapman and John Marston, a Jacobean drama set in 17th Century London that upset King James I. It isn't. This 'Eastward Ho!' is an entirely different and original work.

I think it almost certain that the Yates/Asche play was never published in book form and that it only existed, as do many plays, as working copies for the duration of the theatre production. My hunt for a copy of this allegedly published book has been unsuccessful. The British Library does not have a copy (which they should of every published work) although they do have some of the music, and in every other archive of printed works that I have checked it is similarly absent. I have, however, come across several ephemeral items about the production which have shed some light on the work. In isolation each does not mean a great deal but presented together they help to describe the circumstances of the writing and production.

Continue reading here.

copyright ABfaR and G. A. Michael Sims, August 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thaw Blogsplash

Fiona Robyn is going to blog her next novel, Thaw, starting on the 1st of March next year. The novel follows 32 year old Ruth’s diary over three months as she decides whether or not to carry on living.

To help spread the word she’s organising a Blogsplash, where blogs will publish the first page of Ruth’s diary simultaneously (and a link to the Thaw blog).

She’s aiming to get 1000 blogs involved – if you’d be interested in joining the splash, email her at or find out more information here.
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