Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book of the Week

A Fine Manuscript Commonplace Book of poems along with 21 pen and ink drawings of birds, insects and flowers

Large quarto, 66 pages in total have been used, the rest are blank. There are 21, fairly accomplished, (probably) pen and ink drawings of birds, insects and flowers, some of which are full page. There are also a couple of other illustrations and a few silhouettes. Along with the drawings are numerous poems, all appear to be in the same hand and have copied from a number of sources, many of them are on a botanical theme. There is no indication of who owned or compiled this manuscript. The paper is watermarked, J. Whatman, Turkey Mill and is dated 1821. Finely bound in full red morocco with gilt decorated borders to the front and rear and a full gilt spine.

Price: £495.00

From the stock of Simon French Books.

You can view more books on butterflies here and more books of nineteenth century poetry here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Simon French Books at Bookfairs

Simon French Books, who specialise in Modern First Editions, Literary Criticism, Art, History, and Philosophy, will be at two bookfairs in the coming weeks:

Devizes book fair (PBFA) on 1st May

Churchdown book fair (Independent) on the 2nd May

The copy of Umberto Eco, Reflections on the Name of the Rose shown is a Signed First Edition from Simon's stock: First edition and the first printing. Signed by the author on the title page. Near Fine in a Near Fine dustwrapper which has a light crease to the laminate on the cover. £125.00

You can view more books by or about Umberto Eco here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adrian Bell

Adrian Bell by Roger Thomas of Aucott & Thomas

Adrian Bell was the author of 24 books, although the majority of them are only available second hand, and some of them can be very difficult to track down. Or, in the case of his two slim volumes of poetry, virtually impossible.

Adrian is best known for the trilogy of books that he wrote about his experiences of farming in the the 1930's. Beginning with 'Corduroy' which describes his decision to take up farming, and his first years apprenticeship; and continuing through 'Silver Ley', in which he buys his first farm; and ending with 'The Cherry Tree', the three books are a superb commemoration of a vanished way of life, the final years of horse powered farming, before the second world war and the ubiquitous internal combustion engine killed it forever. The trilogy stayed in print for a very long time, but the best edition, in my opinion and by general consent, is that which Bodley Head issued in 1948, as these included colour and black & white illustrations by the East Anglian artist Harry Becker. Becker had died in 1928, and he and Adrian never met, but the author recognised a kindred spirit, and the words and pictures complement each other so well that it is difficult to believe that they were never originally intended to go together.
The three books of the trilogy are now, thankfully, back in print again (but without the Becker illustrations) as part of the Faber Finds series.

With a General Election impending Martin Bell (Adrian's son), who became well known as the BBC's war correspondent, and did the integrity of the House of Commons a (sadly short-lived) favour by seeing off the Hamiltons at the Tatton by election, has been showing a higher profile. He has recently been giving talks about his new book 'A very British revolution' which is about the recent MP's expenses scandal, and has also been in the news regarding the poor standard of television news reporting.

Rather less well publicised are the talks Martin has given concerning his father's 1939 book 'Men and the fields' which was originally published by Batsford, but has just received a long overdue reissue by Little Toller Publishing This book is one of Adrian's best efforts and is very well illustrated by colour lithographs and drawings contributed by John Nash, who was a neighbour and close friend of the author. The reissued edition, for which Martin has written a preface, includes the illustrations.

As a long time enthusiast of Mr. Bell, and a member of the literary society which exists to celebrate his splendid books, I hope that more of them will soon be made available again. Anyone wishing to find out more about this excellent author should look out for his autobiography 'My own master', which is quite expensive in the Faber edition but is sometimes available at a lower price in the Country Book Club edition. There is also a biography entitled 'Adrian Bell: Voice of the Countryside' written by Ann Gander and published in 2001 by Holm Oak Publishing.

Here's a complete list of his books- those marked* are all currently (April 2010) out of print. All the dustjackets illustrated are from
the first editions

Corduroy: Cobden Sanderson 1930
Silver Ley: Cobden Sanderson 1931
The Cherry Tree: Cobden Sanderson 1932
Folly Field: Cobden Sanderson 1933*
The Balcony: Cobden Sanderson 1934*
Seasons: Centaur Press 1934*
Poems: Centaur Press 1935 and Cobden Sanderson 1935 (Limited edition of 30 copies)*
The Open Air: Batsford 1936 (A.B. edits)*
By Road: Cobden Sanderson 1937*
The Shepherd's Farm: Cobden Sanderson 1939*
Men and the Fields: Batsford 1939
Apple Acre: Bodley Head 1944*
Sunrise to Sunset: Bodley Head 1944*
The Budding Morrow: Bodley Head 1946*
The Black Donkey: Blandford 1949*
The Flower and the Wheel: Bodley Head 1949*
The Path by the Window: Bodley Head 1952*
Music in the Morning: Bodley Head 1954*
A Young Man's Fancy: Bodley Head 1955*
A Suffolk Harvest: Bodley Head 1956*
The Mill House: Bodley Head 1958*
My Own Master: Faber 1961*
A Street in Suffolk: Faber 1964*
A Countryman's Notebook: Boydell 1975*
The Green Bond Boydell: 1976*
A Countrymans Notebook, centenary edition: Adrian Bell Society 2001*

Enquiries regarding membership of the Adrian Bell Society should be directed to the Chairman: John Ford, at Apple Acre, Church Lane, Claxton, Norfolk NR14 7HY, phone 01508 480665

Shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2010

The newly announced shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2010 is:

*Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel (MacLehose Press), translated from the French by John Cullen.

*The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck (Harvill Secker), translated from the German by Anthea Bell.

*Fists by Pietro Grossi (Pushkin Press), translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis.

*Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (Serpent’s Tail), translated from the French by Helen Stevenson.

*The Dark Side of Love by Rafik Schami (Arabia Books), translated from the German by Anthea Bell.

*Chowringhee by Sankar (Atlantic Books), translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha.

One intrepid blogger RobAroundBooks: is reading all of them ahead of the announcement of the winner and you can read more about that here.

You can view lots of literature in translation from ibooknet sellers here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Forbes Fictional Fifteen

The Forbes rich lists include the bizarre The Forbes Fictional 15. This is a list of the fifteen richest fictional characters:

"To qualify for the Fictional 15, we require that candidates be an authored fictional creation, a rule which excludes mythological and folkloric characters. They must star in a specific narrative work or series of works. And they must be known, both within their fictional universe and by their audience, for being rich.

Net worth estimates are based on an analysis of the fictional character's source material, and valued against known real-world commodity and share price movements. In the case of privately held fictional concerns, we sought to identify comparable fictional public companies. All prices are as of market close, April 12, 2010.

We reserve the right to bend or break any of our own rules--so yes, we know Uncle Sam and the Tooth Fairy are folkloric."

I rather love that the Tooth Fairy is on there despite obviously being real.

Topping this years Forbes Fictional 15 is Carlisle Cullen from the Twlight saga by Stephenie Meyer. Also on there is Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, and Artemis Fowl from the series by Eoin Colfer. but the others tend to be drawn from TV rather than literary fiction. You can see them all here.

The book shown illustrating this post is one of the Artenis Fowl series and this edition, signed by Eoin Colfer is from the stock of Stella & Rose's Books:

Published: Puffin Books., 2002
Edition: First Edition
Binding: Hardback , with Dustjacket
Inscription: Signed, Inscribed Or Annotated
1st, Black boards, silver title to spine., Book condition Fine, Dust jacket condition fine, SIGNED by author on title page.
Stock number: 582081. ISBN: 0670899631
£ 20.00 ( approx. $US 29.95 )

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pulitzer Prize winners 2010

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize winners include:

Fiction - Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)

Poetry - Versed by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)

The literary prizes which are for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, and for a distinguished volume of original verse by an American poet, have been awarded since 1948 and 1922 respectively.

Previous distinguished winners include:


1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

and poetry:

1924: New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes by Robert Frost
1947: Lord Weary's Castle by Robert Lowell
1954: The Waking by Theodore Roethke
1963: Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams
1982: The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
2009: The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin

Book of the Week

Bill Badger's finest hour by B.B. (Denys Watkins-Pitchford)

Published: Hamish Hamilton, 1961
Edition: First Edition; First Printing
Binding: Hardcover

Very clean, tightly bound book which has a small bookseller's label at the bottom of the front pastedown, in a bright priceclipped dustjacket which has minor rubbing at the corners but no tears or loss. An exceptional copy of one of the rarer B.B. childrens books, Very Good in Very Good dust jacket
Stock number: 25167.
£ 375.00

From the stock of Aucott & Thomas.

You can view more books illustrated by B.B. (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) here.
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