Friday, December 31, 2010

Books of the Year 2010

Some Ibooknet sellers give a run down of their best reads of the year:

Best reads of the year from Philip of Lund Theological Books

How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Sarah Bakewell 978-0701178925 Chatto & Windus 2010

I love Montaigne's Essays, and this book fills in a lot of background, historical and philosophical.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Diarmaid MacCulloch Allen Lane 2009 978-0713998696

Magisterial and enjoyable, but too big for the bath.

Mistress Masham's Repose. T H White

Lovely sequel to Swift's tale of Gulliver in Lilliput. Set in Northamptonshire. Originally published in the 1960s I think.

Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson

Published around 1992, this science fiction novel set in a disfunctioning near future in the USA foretells all sorts of developments which have come to pass in the cyberworld of our time, and some which have almost done so. I was bowled over by this author, and have another of his books lined up to read in the new year. A rattling good read.

The Bible: The Biography. Karen Armstrong 2007 1-84354-396-6

Armstrong is the best populariser of religious thought I know of today. Despite my having two degrees in theology I learnt an awful lot from this well-written book.

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Paul Collier. Oxford UP 2008

The title says it all, but this book has won prizes for its concise analysis of the problems of the poorest countries and its suggested remedies. Quite short, and very readable.

Simon of Simon French Books also discusses books for the bath:

I had a summer of reading post-apocalyptic/catastrophe novels. I particularly liked Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, George R. Stewart's Earth Abides and Nevil Shute's On the Beach (although this last was a bit depressing even for this genre!). The pick of the bunch was Justin Cronin's The Passage. It's a hefty book at some 750 pages, so again, not one for the bath, but it is the first book for a long time that I've been so engrossed by that a couple of hours solid reading has passed in a flash. One can see the influence of Earth Abides in it and it bears a comparison to (and possibly even surpasses) Stephen King's The Stand. So good was it that when I finished it, I was sorely tempted to start it again.

For some light holiday reading (and having just seen the tv show) I'm rereading Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Now there's a bath-time book!

Rather less apocalyptic was Barbara of March House Books' choice:

The Little Round House by Marion St. John Webb
(1956 edition with illustrations by Jean Walmsley Heap). I’ve sold lots of copies over the years and decided it was time to read it! Children’s story about an ordinary (or extraordinary!) pillar-box and the adventures of Mr. Papingay, the home-made fairy, Mrs. Tupp and all the rest of them.

Notes from An Exhibition by Patrick Gale. Rachel Kelly is an artist full of creative highs and crippling lows she’s also something of an enigma to her husband and four children. So when she is found dead in her Penzance Studio, leaving behind some extraordinary new paintings, there’s a painful need for answers.

Passing for Normal: Tourette’s OCD and growing up crazy by Amy Wilensky – memoir of a young woman’s struggle to come to terms with a life plagued by irrational behaviour.

The Life and Works of Alfred Bestall illustrator of Rupert Bear by Caroline G Bott – more for dipping into when time allows but an interesting read none the less.

Nigel from Bagot Books was able to narrow his choice down to just one interesting volume:

My favourite book of 2010 must be Peter Orlando Hutchinson's
Diary of a Devon Antiquary 1871-1894
It is the second volume of a selection from his journals, illustrated with
his own watercolours and sketches: volume one was published ten years ago so
I was pleased to read v.2 at last. He's best-remembered as an antiquary and water colourist, but took an interest in anything novel or unusual,
including geology, astronomy, meteorology, the Enclosures, new railways,
etc; in his later years he became an archaeologist rather than an antiquary,
recording and illustrating discoveries in their context, rather than just
collecting them. He was kind to animals, helpful to people less fortunate
than himself, he played the French horn and flute, and he was delightfully
eccentric. He had a cannon which had been captured from pirates, and would
wheel it round Sidmouth in the 1850s firing it; and at the age of 64, while
on a picnic with four friends, he surreptitiously put on a false nose and a
pair of large goggle-eyed spectacles 'much to the amusement of the ladies'.
He spent a lot of his later life building a new house out of bits of old
churches - the result wasn't very comfortable, but it's still there in

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Audubon's Birds of America auctioned for £7 million.

A first edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America has just been auctioned at Sotheby’s for £7,000,000. Lord Hesketh was selling off some of his library (presumably he hasn’t the room since he sold his family seat, Easton Neston, five years ago).
The book, in four volumes in contemporary diced Russia gilt, comes with a little cabinet to keep them in, and was expected to go for £4-6 million. There are only 119 known complete copies, and nearly all of them are owned by institutions.
The nearest I have been to a copy was in Temple Newsam in Leeds, where it’s possible to see where Lady Hertford had the one volume she owned cut up so she could have the pretty birds pasted on to her Chinese wallpaper, as described in my blog.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Gift Cards

As lots of friends and relatives can be difficult to buy a gift for, gift vouchers and gift cards are very useful. An number of ibooknet sellers offer gift cards on their own websites, available to purchase online and in a wide variety of denominations. They can be spent online on the dealer's website and most dealers ship books to most countries. Here are a few dealers who sell gift cards, with a brief outline of the dealer's specialism, so you can select the card most likely to delight your recipient.

Bagot Books carries a general stock with an emphasis on UK travel/topography/history.

Jane Badger Books carries a wide range of pony books: everything from Ruby Ferguson to the Pullein-Thompsons, with many interesting detours between.

C L Hawley carries literary criticism and literary biography including books on Jane Austen, the Brontes, Mrs Gaskell, Sylvia Plath, William Morris, the thirties poets etc., plus a general academic stock, and books on Yorkshire and Lancashire including dialect poetry.

Peakirk Books carries children's books.

Stephen Foster carries rare books and fine bindings.

Amwell Book Company carries modern art, architecture and photography and has a shop in Central London. You can read more about their shop here.

East Riding Books carries books on all aspects of music.

Marchhouse Books carries Children's and illustrated books plus a very small general stock.

The pictured books are:

a first edition of Fire in the Punchbowl from the stock of Jane Badger Books ;

and The Last Books of H G Wells: The Happy Turning and Mind at the End of Its Tether

from the stock of Bagot Books.

N.B. individual dealers have their own terms and conditions so do read the individual websites properly and email the dealer if you are unsure.

Vintage children's books as Christmas presents

My colleague Barbara at March House Books has a lovely display on her website - see here. I can also recommend Peakirk Books and Stella and Roses books for vintage children's books. The lovely Jane of Jane Badger Books can supply you with vintage pony books at all prices and her website is mine of information and reviews.

I sell a small amount of children's myself too on C L Hawley Books. Go to our browse categories page and under C you'll find several sections of children's books.

Most good indie booksellers will happily supply photos of books by email if you ask. Very few websites have everything photographed as stock is individual and changes so fast.

The range of images at the top are of vintage children's books at March House Books from Barbara's range of gifts under £30. The Famous Five - Five Go Down to the Sea is from C L Hawley Books.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Glastonbury, Arthur and Somerset

By Lynn of Bailey Hill Bookshop.

Based in Somerset, the home of Arthurian legend, I had to read the new Phil Rickman Bones of Avalon. It rather compliments the stock we either hold or try to acquire in our Somerset section. The book is a good mixture of fact and fiction. The plot deals with a journey to Glastonbury by John Dee and Robert Dudley on work for Queen Elizabeth and concerning a popish plot by the French to overthrow her. For research Rickman has relied on the authority of David Starkey, Keith Thomas and Frances Yates amongst others. One book of particular interest he has drawn on is Glastonbury Abbey The Holy House at the Head of the Moors Adventurous by James Carley. This fascinating book gives a detailed history of the association of Arthurian Legend and Glastonbury. Supplementing this knowledge are works on the area by Geoffrey Ashe well known for his publications on Arthurian Legend, Robert Dunning the Somerset County Historian, and Philip Rahtz and his archaeological work on Glastonbury. Of course all this is still very topical with Peter Ackroyd's new publication on King Arthur and the Holy Grail, The Death of King Arthur: The Immortal Legend.

Sadly many of the associations with the legend have become tarnished with a New Age aura and the more serious aspect of their importance is overlooked. Despite the overlay of crystal shops, music festivals etc. Glastonbury still has a sense of place that can still be said to exert a mystical appeal.

Closer to Castle Cary is the site of Cadbury Castle, excavated in the 1960’s by Leslie Alcock and described in his book Why This Camelot. This was published by Thames and Hudson and I currently haven’t got a copy in stock but am always happy to buy one in good condition. John Steinbeck lived near Cadbury Castle, in Redlynch outside of Bruton, and it was here he wrote his book King Arthur and the Noble Knights.

In the wider area of Somerset books one is always on the lookout for anything from the Somerset Folk Series, a really charming series published in the twenties by the Somerset Folk Society and it includes titles such as the Holy Wells of Somerset, Somerset Drama, Somerset Dialect. All the books are well researched and well presented. Hard to come by and I will buy them. Early copies of A Glastonbury Romance and other Cowper Powys titles would be appreciated. I am also on the lookout for a Clarendon Press monograph on Wells that was published in the early 1990’s. I have never managed to find one on the internet.

If you visit us in Somerset you can still walk the Leland Trail, the same trail John Leland* took to Glastonbury to document the wealth of Glastonbury Abbey, you can walk around Cadbury Castle or you can go to Glastonbury and climb the Tor where you will be treated to wonderful skys and the landscape of rynes that surround Glastonbury.

Bailey Hill Bookshop was featured recently in the top 50 best bookshops in the Independent and featured in the Guardian - My Perfect Day - by Amy Jenkins.

You can view Bailey Hill Bookshop's books on Somerset here.

*there is a new publication from the Bodleian library of John Leland's On Famous Men edited and translated by James Carley. It has just been published ISBN 978185243679 and costs £120.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Petrie Museum Book Auction

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is part of UCL (University College London), is one of the largest collections of Egyptian and Sudanese archaeology in the world, and has just reorganised their displays.
They’re holding their annual book auction to raise money, with 179 items mostly, but not exclusively, on Egyptology. It’s initially online, but it will finish with a live auction at the museum on December 8. The books are listed at the Heritage Key website.
UCL also has an excellent website in Digital Egypt, which has thousands of pages of resources, including 3D reconstructions of archaeological sites.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bookbinders and Bicycles

Cambridge is so wonderful to get around on a bicycle! I just took a lovely old (and valuable) book to the Post Office to send Special Delivery. I then popped into one of the ancient and beautiful College libraries to look at some books, including some old leather-bound Bibles from the Chapel which have obviously been “lovingly used and cherished for many years” which in Bookseller-speak could mean they are falling apart! However, they are much too nice to discard and we will do our best to find them good homes – perhaps via a visit to our wonderful Bookbinder which was the last stop on my circuit of the city. All this in about an hour: by car, it would have taken me most of the afternoon and involved lots of time sitting in traffic and looking for parking.

By Ruth of Plurabelle Books.

For books on Cambridge try Plurabelle Books and A Book for All Reasons and for books on bicycles try Stella & Rose's Books.

The image is by Anka of Happy Hang Around Blog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Success of Independent Bookshops

On the weekend that Campaign for Real Books officially launches it is interesting to see that there's an article in the *FT about the success of indie bookshops in the current economic climate. New book sellers Foyles, Daunt Books and Jaffé and Neale are all mentioned in dispatches.

For a full list of the ibooknet sellers offering the CAMBO discount please see here

* You have to register with the FT to read the article but it there is a free level of registration which give you access to a limited number of articles a month. Thank you to Paul of Orangeberry Books for pointing out the FT article.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Russia Season at The Travel Bookshop

To mark the centenary of Leo Tolstoy's death and the 150th anniversary of Anton Chekhov's birth The Travel Bookshop will be hosting a series of talks about Russia and Russian literature throughout November 2010. Confirmed events include talks by the biographer of both Tolstoy and Chekhov Rosamund Bartlett, historian Rachel Polonsky, and poet and biographer Elaine Feinstein.

Thursday 11th November - Rosamund Bartlett on Leo Tolstoy
To mark the 100th anniversary of Tolstoy's death biographer Rosamund Bartlett will be discussing her latest book "Tolstoy: A Russian Life" and the man who long life straddled the 19th and 20th centuries and whose rebellious life reflected Russia's own turbulent history.

Tuesday 16th November - Elaine Feinstein on Anna Akhmatova
Poet and biographer Elaine Feinstein will be talking about the poet Anna Akhmatova. As well as her sparkling genius as a poet, Akhmatova showed immense courage in her resistance to Stalin's regime, during which her husband and son were held captive.

Thursday 18th November - The Orwell Prize Presents: Orwell on Russia
So what was - and what is - Orwell's influence on Russia? The Orwell Prize is delighted to be bringing Masha Karp (journalist, translator of Animal Farm into Russian) and John Lloyd (contributing editor and former Moscow Bureau Chief, Financial Times) together to talk about Orwell and Russia, chaired by Jean Seaton (director of the Orwell Prize).

Monday 22nd November - Rachel Polonsky on Molotov's Magic Lantern
Academic Rachel Polonsky will be discussing her book "Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History".

Saturday 20th November - Pass On A Poem
"Pass on a Poem" presents a very special evening of readings of Russian poetry.

Tuesday 23rd November - Rosamund Bartlett on Chekhov: The Traveller
Rosamund Bartlett, biographer and translator of Russian literature, will be discussing the work and life of Anton Chekhov, looking in particular at his travels and the important impact that place had on his work.

Ibooknet members stocking books on Tolstoy or Russia include:

A Book for All Reasons
Barter Books
Plurabelle Books
C L Hawley
Marijana Dworski

The book images are:

Ptichka (the Little Bird) by Tolstoy from the stock of Marijana Dworski


Anna Akhmatova: Her Poetry by David Wells from the stock of C L Hawley

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Campaign for Real Books

A Campaign for Real Books has been launched. It aims to support the book trade in the UK, both new books and secondhand, online shops and bricks and mortar.

As a member you'll receive a simple paper CAMBO card entitling you to 10% discount when you spend over £10 at independent bookshops. It's a book token that works all year round; it's valid in both new and second hand bookshops and when you buy one it will enables the campaign to do all this and more:

•support new and secondhand independent bookshops across the UK

•campaign to save threatened bookshops and libraries

•support independent printers, publishers, papermakers, binders, private presses and all those whose livelihoods depend on paper books

•hold and sponsor book fairs, literary festivals and other events

•organise prizes for authors, shops, independent publishers, designers, illustrators and others associated with the book trade

•develop our website with news, views, interviews, links to shops, books for sale and much, much more

Plus you'll get free or discounted admission to all CAMBO events, a newsletter and more!

You can start showing your support by pre-registering today - and when you do, you'll receive an extra two months' membership free, meaning your CAMBO card will save money on books this Christmas and next!

Ibooknet sellers who have signed up to offer a CAMBO discount include:

A Book for All Reasons

C L Hawley

Stephen Foster

March House Books

Aucott & Thomas

Amwell Book Company

Bailey Hill Book Shop

Jane Badger Books

East Riding Books

Marijana Dworski Books

Books & Bygones

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Local history book fair, Beverley, Yorkshire

A local history book fair will be held at the Treasure House, in Champney Road, Beverley, Yorkshire on Saturday, 23 October 10.00am - 4.00pm.

Now in its 24th year, the annual local history book fair hosted by East Riding of Yorkshire Council's archives and local studies service has changed venue this year to the Treasure House.

Around 35 organisations will participate in the event, including the council's archives and local studies service and museums and library services, local history societies, family history societies, other specialist interest organisations relating to the locality and region, as well as publishers and booksellers.

Yorkshire local history books from the stock of East Riding Books :

A History of Hull by Edward Gillett and Kenneth A.

Historic Beverley by Ivan & Elisabeth Hall

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Philip Larkin (9 August 1922 - 2 December 1985)

Philip Larkin by Gill of East Riding Books

I started my bookselling career in the 1960s at the bookshop of Hull University.
A regular customer in those days was Philip Larkin, the university librarian. He came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, published by the Marvel Press, which was a small, local publishing house, literally a small house, next to an off-licence and a fish-and-chip shop.

Jean Hartley, Philip Larkin, the Marvel Press and Me

His third book of poetry, The Whitsun Weddings (1964) was published during my time there. I well remember many customers eagerly awaiting the day of publication and a large number of copies had been ordered anticipating the demand.

Larkin was chosen in a 2003 Poetry Book Society survey, almost two decades after his death, as Britain's best-loved poet of the previous 50 years, and in 2008 The Times named him Britain's greatest post-war writer.

This year a number of cultural events have marked the 25 years since Larkin's death
in 1985. Larkin's adopted home, Kingston upon Hull where he spent 30 years, is marking the anniversary with the Larkin 25 Festival, taking place over 25 weeks, from 12 June - 2 December 2010.

There is a tourist trail of all the places that inspired the poet; his work place, the Brynmor Jones Library; his lodgings at the top floor of a house in Pearson Park which prompted him to use the title High Windows for his last major poetry collection; his home in the mid 70s in Newland Park is also included as are the shops, restaurants and pubs where he drank and listened to his favourite music, he was jazz critic for the Daily Telegraph for ten years. The trail extends also to the East Riding countryside and the old churches Larkin used to visit on his bicycle.

Larkin's Jazz: Essays and Reviews

Larkin with Toads. 40 giant toad sculptures, each about 1m tall and made of fibreglass were commissioned and have been decorated by artists and community groups. They were on display in various areas of the city from July to September. The inspiration for these sculptures were his poems "Toads" and "Toads Revisited".

On 25th September the toads were auctioned and raised over £60,000. Bids ranged from £1250 to £3600 per toad which far exceeded expectations. Many of the toads have been bought by private bidders from all over the country, a few will remain on public view in the city with four staying in their current locations. Proceeds from the sale will go to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, arts funds and the Lord Mayor's charities.

Following a competitive commissioning process to select a sculptor to create a lasting memorial to Larkin, internationally renowned sculptor Martin Jennings was selected to create a statue of Larkin at Hull Paragon Interchange. The statue will be unveiled on 2 December 2010, the exact anniversary of Larkin's death and the closing date of the Larkin25 commemorations.

Punkphibian Artist: Liz Dees

Books by and about Philip Larkin including first editions, poetry collections and literary criticism can be found amongst the stock of the following Ibooknet members:

C L Hawley
Plurabelle Books
Stephen Foster

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2010

The shortlisted authors and judges are having a discussion at this free event at the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace, London, on 21 October at 6.30pm. If you have any questions you'd like to put to them, from past experience I suggest you get there to join the queue ages before 5.45, the time the doors open, as it's no booking, just turn up. They do usually have an overflow video feed to cater for the excess, but then you might as well stay at home and watch it on the live broadcast at or at your leisure later on at
The shortlisted books are: A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack; Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic by Frederick Grinnell; God’s Philosophers: How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science by James Hannam; Life Ascending by Nick Lane; We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown; and Why Does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Enid Blyton's papers saved

Well, some of them. Bearing in mind her prolific output, very few original manuscripts have survived. Blyton's daughter, the late Gillian Baverstock, had some, and they have now been sold. Seven Stories Museum, in Newcastle, has bought seven, including three Famous Fives.

Whatever you think about Enid Blyton's oeuvre, she is still immensely collectable. I had a short and intense Blyton phase as a child. I remember overhearing my mother talking to a friend as I worked my way through a pile of Blytons from the library. "Why ever do you let Jane readthose?" asked the friend. "It's a phase," replied my mother. "She'll read them all and that will be that. If I try and stop her she'll hang on to them forever." I remember at the time being impressed with this piece of motherly wisdom. She was quite right, too. I finished my Blyton phase, and have never been able to read one since. I have tried. Just can't do it. I wonder if mother had banned them if I'd now have a priceless collection of dustjacketed Blyton beauties, instead of a collection redolent of horse.

For those with a serious Blyton habit, Ibooknet members have some marvellous books in stock, catering to all pockets, from Stella and Rose's lovely first edition of The Magic Faraway Tree (£1,800),

to Peakirk Books' Five Have Plenty of Fun (£10.00) and March House Books' The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters (£26.00).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bailey Hill Book Shop in The Guardian

Ibooknet member Bailey Hill Book Shop has been mentioned in a nice piece in The Guardian My Perfect Days out in the UK. Scroll to just over half way and the section subtitled: Amy Jenkins, screenwriter – Arthurian legends and a hard boiled egg, Somerset.

Amy Jenkins says:

"Next stop is nearby Castle Cary, one of the prettiest hamstone towns in the area. Make sure you take in the charming Round House, built in 1779 to lock up local miscreants, and then head for Bailey Hill Bookshop (01963 350917,, which is the nicest I know. There's a lovely upstairs gallery where the secondhand books are kept and you are welcome to sit for hours and browse."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Held at The National Theatre on Saturday 11 September 2010, the Roald Dahl Funny Prize is part of the annual celebration of legendary children’s author, Roald Dahl.

Michael Rosen, poet and former Children’s Laureate, is the brains behind the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. To mark the third year of the prize and the fifth annual Roald Dahl Day, he is joined by a host of special guests including author Philip Ardagh and comedian Shappi Khorsandi, both Roald Dahl Funny Prize judges.

Side-splitting stories, revolting rhymes, and priceless poems are guaranteed to make you and your children guffaw. Even the book-signing afterwards will have you in stitches.

Click here to buy tickets for the event

The prize has two categories:

• The funniest book for children aged six and under

• The funniest book for children aged seven to fourteen

Friday, August 6, 2010

Verily Anderson, 1915-2010

Verily Anderson was an author whose writing received what her obituarist in The Times called "respectful attention". The daughter of a vicar, she was born in Edgbaston, and grew up in East Sussex, where she went to Normanhurst School. Here, whether you owned a horse or not, foxhunting was on the curriculum. Verily Anderson showed some musical talent, and was accepted at the Royal College of Music, but her time there ended abruptly. Her father stopped paying the fees when it became clear she would not succeed as a concert pianist.

As a child, she had been a keen guide, and had many badges. Using these as qualifications, she embarked on a varied series of jobs: designing toffee papers; a chauffeur, and by 1939, a sub-editor on The Guide, the Guides' magazine.

In 1940 she married Donald Anderson, a playwright, and the couple both became freelance writers. They had five children, and when Donald died in 1956, Verily Anderson had to support the family on her own. She wrote about bringing up her family on virtually nothing (the wonderfully named Spam Tomorrow as well as five others), and wrote the eight book Brownie series. Alas, the Brownie books were considered too exciting by the Girl Guide Association for it to support them.

I had no Brownie experience with which to compare them, having not been allowed to join the Brownies, but I found the books completely enchanting as a child: they were a window into another world where girls worked together and had adventures.

Verily Anderson carried on writing virtually until her death. The day before she died, she finished a book about Herstmonceux Castle.

This piece is illustrated with the following:
Daughters of Divinity: Hart-Davis, London, 1960. 1st edition hardback in dw, vg/vg. Very clean copy in d/w that has slightly browned in places. This book comes from Malcolm Saville's book collection, and contains the inscription "Malcolm Saville best wishes Verily Anderson" on fep. £70.00 Peakirk Books

Brownies on Wheels: Brockhampton Press, 1st edn, 1966. VG/VG. Very good book in very good dustjacket. No previous owner's name, pages clean, binding tight. Black and white illustrations by Edgar Norfield. Very good unclipped dustjacket (9/6) with minimal wear to spine tips and corners. A holiday for Brownies in a real gipsy caravan! The trek into the New Forest provides Amanda, Tulip, Lucinda and their Brownie friends with an exciting holiday, but it also proves how resourceful Brownies can be... £10.00 March House Books

Monday, August 2, 2010

Conan Doyle's old house, Undershaw, to be redeveloped

Undershaw is the house Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in, having had it built in 1897 as his wife needed to move into the country for health reasons. He lived there for ten years, and wrote while there, among other things, The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Undershaw Preservation Trust would like to turn the Grade II listed building into a museum, but in June Waverley District Council granted listed building and planning consent for the conversion of the house into three apartments with an extension containing five town houses. The council has previously spent over £70,000 on emergency repairs to the building which had been neglected by the owners.

There has been a lengthy campaign, the latest stage of which has seen a number of people, including Conan Doyle’s great-great-nephews, Joshua and Oliver Conan Doyle, writing to Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey - he had previously been in favour of preserving the property. Stephen Fry, Christopher Frayling and Uri Geller are listed among the campaign's supporters.

You can read on at Bagotbooks's Blog.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Five go to Tintagel

Further Famous Five news: on the afternoon of August 10 there will be readings from Five Go to Sea in the courtyard of Tintagel Castle, and I can't think of a more evocative setting for storytelling. Mike O'Connor, renowned storyteller, musician, and researcher into Cornwall's folklore and musical heritage, will be telling the tales.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dornford Yates and C. W. Stamper

In 1913 Mills and Boon published a book called ‘What I Know’, by C. W. Stamper, the memoirs of a chauffeur/motor engineer to King Edward VII from 1905-10, with an acknowledgement in the foreword to Dornford Yates 'but for whose tireless assistance these memories might never have been published'.

Dornford Yates (real name Cecil William Mercer) was at this time still a practising barrister but he was short of work and had been writing stories for the Windsor Magazine, a popular monthly, since 1911. His first book in his own name however, a collection of these short stories, would not appear until 1914. After WW1 he went on to give up the bar, became a full-time writer and wrote a further thirty-three books.

Although no acknowledgement of ‘What I Know’ ever appeared in Dornford Yates’ other works it was presumed that he was the ghost-writer but there was never any certainty. In 1982 A. J. Smithers biography of Dornford Yates failed to mention the title at all although there was a note in the preface to the 2nd edition in 1985 that the existence of the book had since come to his notice. Yates himself never mentioned it in his quasi-autobiographies.

The full story of how the connection has been established, in Yates' own hand, can be seen at A Book for all Reasons

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Man Booker Longlist Announced

The Man Booker judges have announced the long list of thirteen titles. This years judges, chaired by Andrew Motion former Poet Laureate, are Rosie Blau, Literary Editor of the Financial Times; Deborah Bull, formerly a dancer, now Creative Director of the Royal Opera House as well as a writer and broadcaster; Tom Sutcliffe, journalist, broadcaster and author and Frances Wilson, biographer and critic.

Three authors have been shortlisted before: David Mitchell (twice shortlisted in 2001 for number9dream and in 2004 for Cloud Atlas), Damon Galgut (in 2003 for The Good Doctor) and Rose Tremain (shortlisted in 1989 for Restoration). She was also a judge for the Booker Prize in 1988 and 2000.

Howard Jacobson has been longlisted twice for his book Kalooki Nights in 2006 and for Who's Sorry Now? in 2002.

Ibooknet members who stock a lot of modern fiction including first editions and signed copies are Simon French, Stephen Foster, The Glass Key, Hessay Books, Diaskari Books (contact ) and Barter Books.

The long listed titles are:

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Faber and Faber)

Room by Emma Donoghue (Pan MacMillan - Picador)

The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (Penguin - Fig Tree)

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury)

The Long Song by Andrea Levy (Headline Publishing Group – Headline Review)

C by Tom McCarthy (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)

February by Lisa Moore (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)

Trespass by Rose Tremain (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)

The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Enid Blyton for the Twenty-first Century

By Nigel of Bagot Books.

In Saturday’s Guardian there was an article about Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books getting a ‘makeover’ – changing some of the terminology to fit modern times, for example ‘mother’ to ‘mum’, ‘mercy me’ to ‘oh no’, and ‘fellow’ to ‘old man’. The new language is supposed to be ‘timeless’ according to Hodder, but presumably it’s as timeless as today – or rather, today’s children’s language as adult editors imagine it. Presumably in fifty years’ time the language of speech in these books will seem not only dated, but anachronistic, as the rest of the books are remaining unchanged. The reasoning is that the language puts children off reading the books, but I think this underestimates the intelligence of children. (I like this comment from Tony Summerfield, who runs the Enid Blyton Society: ‘How can you change Nobby to Ned and yet leave Dick and Fanny?’)

Reads more thoughts on the modernising of Enid Blyton by Bagot Books here.

You can see Enid Blyton books for sale from Bagot Books here, from Stella and Rose's Books here, from March House Books here, and from Peakirk Books here.

This post is illustrated by a book from the stock of Stella and Rose's Books.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Really Good Read

The RNIB have a money raising scheme The Really Good Read. Because only 5 per cent of books are available in formats that blind and partially sighted people can read the RNIB is inviting readers to join book lovers all over the UK going bonkers about books to raise money for RNIB.

The RNIB fund-raising suggestions include book clubs, literary pub quizes, bring and buy book sales and more. You will need to register on the The Really Good Read website for a fundraising pack.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The British Archaeology Awards winners announced

The winners of the British Archaeology Awards were announced this evening. The Best Archaeological Book was deemed to be Britain's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch & David Smith, published by the Council for British Archaeology.
The other winners are listed on the award's website.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Waverton Good Read Award

Every year the residents of Waverton make an award to the best British debut novel published in the previous 12 months. 61 novels were submitted for the 2009/10 Waverton Good Read Award.

The result of this year's vote was announced at the Waverton Carnival on 3rd July. The winner of the 2009/10 Waverton Good Read Award is Andrew Sharp for his novel The Ghosts of Eden.

Previous winners are:

•2004 Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
•2005 Jonathan Trigell – Boy A
•2006 Marina Lewycka – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
•2007 Nicola Monaghan – The Killing Jar
•2008 Paul Torday - Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
•2009 Tom Rob Smith - Child 44

The illustration is a signed first edition of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka from the stock of Aucott & Thomas.

At the time of writing Diaskari Books have two first editions of Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith in stock. (Contact )

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bookdealing birthdays

Two members are celebrating trade milestones this month.

Jane Badger tells her own story on her blog Books, Mud and Compost of how she began buying and selling. She also has a lovely celebratory pony image on her website Jane Badger Books and details of The Pony Books Competition - test your pony book knowledge with 80 questions on everything from colours to characters. The top scorer will win a £50 book token for her site, and also there is a special offer of 10% off all orders on the sales site for a month!

The Dolphin Summer by Monica Edwards shown is a Children's Book Club edition of one of Edward's rarer titles sold by Jane Badger Books.

It is ten years since C L Hawley (me!) started trading. After struggling to find academic books when doing an MA whilst living in a rural backwater I began tentatively buying and selling used and recently out of print literary criticism in July 2000. The first book I sold was Seamus Heaney by fellow poet Blake Morrison. I gave up the day job nine years ago and joined Ibooknet the same year. I sell from my own site C L Hawley Books and blog at Juxtabook. To celebrate this month I have special offers on my website and on Juxtabook so do please visit.

The book shown is the first publication of The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh, published in the literary and arts periodical Horizon, edited by Cyril Connolly and available from C L Hawley Books.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction won by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, a Los Angeles Times journalist, has won the £20,000 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. The account of life in North Korea drawn from interviews with defectors was described by Evan Davis, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today show and chairman of the judges, as "gripping and moving".

Nothing to Envy beat five other works to the prize.

The short list was:

•Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury)
•Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (Granta)
•Blood Knots by Luke Jennings (Atlantic Books)
•Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin (Penguin, Allen Lane)
•A Gambling Man by Jenny Uglow (Faber and Faber)
•Catching Fire: How Cooking made us Human by Richard Wrangham (Profile Books)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Desmond Elliott Prize for new writers winner announced

The winner of the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for new writers was announced tonight as Ali Shaw's The Girl with Glass Feet, published by Atlantic Books at £7.99.

Shaw has worked as a bookseller and at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, but now is writing full-time. The plot, inspired by Kafka's Metamorphosis, follows a girl who is slowly turning to glass from the feet up.

The other two shortlisted books were Before the Earthquake by Maria Allen and Talk of the Town by Jacob Polley.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heart of England Book Fair

Ibooknet members Peakirk Books and Simon French Books are attending the Heart of England Book Fair at the National Motorcycle Museum, Coventry Road, Bickenhill, Solihull, West Midlands B92 0EJ (J6 of M42) on Sunday 27th June.

Peakirk Books specialise in children and illustrated books including works by BB (Watkins-Pitchford). Biggs, Margaret. Breary, Nancy. Brent-Dyer, Elinor. Bruce, Dorita Fairlie. Blyton, Enid; Buckeridge, Anthony. Edwards, Monica. Forest, Antonia. Hill, Lorna. Johns, W.E. some Ladybirds ( pre 1980). Mallory, Clare. Martin, J.P. Mitchell, Gladys. Needham, Violet. Observers Books. Oxenham, E.J. Pardoe, Iris. Price, Evadne. Rae, G. Saville, Malcolm. Trevor, Elleston. Welch, Ronald.

Simon French Books specialise in Modern First Edition books, including many fine and signed titles for the discerning collector.

The book illustrating this post is from the stock of Peakirk Books:

Challenge for the Chalet School By Elinor Brent-Dyer

Publisher: London: Chambers, 1966

Seller ID: 69333

1st edition; Hbk in d/w; nice copy of book; school presentation plate inside; price clipped;Vg+/Vg;

Girls chalet school stories;

Price = 100.00 GBP

Friday, June 18, 2010

Nobel-winning author Jose Saramago dies

The 87 year old Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago has died. Best known for works such as Blindness and The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (which won the PEN Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award) as well as the controversial The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

You can read the New York Time Obituary here and an interview with Jose Saramago on The Guardian here.

Ibooknet member Simon French Books has a couple of nice first editions of Jose Saramago novels.

British Archaeology Awards

And yet another award – the British Archaeology Awards. There are nominations for a variety of categories, including Best Archaeological Project, Best Presentation of Archaeology in the Media, and Best Archaeological Discovery, I’ve listed these on my own blog. The nominations for Best Archaeological Book are:
  • Britain's Oldest Art: The Ice Age Cave Art of Creswell Crags by Paul Bahn & Paul Pettitt
  • Europe's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch & David Smith
  • The Rose and The Globe, playhouses of Shakespeare's Bankside, Southwark: Excavations 1988-1991 by Julian Bowsher & Pat Miller

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Royal Society Prize for Science Books

The longlist for this year's Royal Society Prize for Science Books - the world's most prestigious award for science writing - has been announced.

* We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown
* Why Does E=mc2? By Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
* Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne
* In Search of the Multiverse by John Gribbin
* Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic by Frederick Grinnell
* God’s Philosophers: How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science by James Hannam
* Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen
* Darwin’s Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England by Steve Jones
* Life Ascending by Nick Lane
* The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist
* Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell
* A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack

The judges on the judging panel are: Maggie Philbin, radio & television presenter (Chair); Professor Tim Birkhead, Fellow of the Royal Society; Tracy Chevalier, author; Robin Ince, stand-up comedian, writer & actor; Dr Janet Anders, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow.

The shortlist will be announced on 24th August 2010.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Alternative World Cup Squad

If you keep hearing the name Defoe over the next few weeks and wonder what the author of Robinson Crusoe has done to get himself in the news then this take on the world cup might be the one for you.

Several Ibooknet members have books on South Africa (including South African fiction, history or politics). You can try the stock of Plurabelle Books, C L Hawley and Barter Books.

For Daniel Defoe or the eighteenth century novel try C L Hawley or Stella & Rose's Books.

The copy of Robinson Crusoe used to illustrate this post is from the stock of Stella & Rose's Books.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Easy Bookshelves for an Alcove

A solution for bookstorage in the older house by Philip Lund of Lund Theological Books

Lots of older British houses have chimney breasts in living rooms and bedrooms which look ideal for putting bookshelves in. At first glance it would seem simple to screw a few battens on the facing walls of the alcove and put some shelves across between them. However, anyone who has ever tried drilling into a brick wall knows how difficult it is to put in holes that are exactly at right angles to the surface, and lined up horizontally. Drill bits slip, they encounter hard material, they end up slightly in the wrong place. By the time you have made two holes for every batten, and put in two battens for each shelf, and have got half a dozen or more shelves fitted you will be very lucky to have a set of perfectly positioned horizontal shelves.

And I see lots of home-fitted shelving sagging under the weight of books because the shelves are too thin for the span between the walls.

The following suggestions have been used and modified by me over the years very successfully in most rooms of our house. The basic principle is that you don't screw the shelf battens to the wall, you screw them to a plank you've fixed as an upright to the wall. As putting screws into wood is a lot easier than drilling holes in walls the whole job is quicker and neater. Of course you still have to drill some holes, but not half as many as in the traditional method. Here's an example:

Click to continue reading Easy Bookshelves for an Alcove.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Making of the British Landscape

I’ve just finished reading the 800-odd pages of The Making of the British Landscape (ISBN 9781846142055) by Francis Pryor, who many will know from his TV appearances on Time Team, as well as Britain BC and Britain AD, which he adapted from his books of the same name for Channel 4 television. He was a field archaeologist for many years, specialising in the Fenland area of eastern England, and best known for his work at Fengate, Cat’s Water, and subsequently at Flag Fen, on the edges of Peterborough. Previously President of the Council for British Archaeology, he now divides his time circannually between writing, broadcasting, and sheep-farming.

The title echoes W G Hoskins’s The Making of the English Landscape, first published in 1953, which I read when I was a teenager. It made quite an impact on me, and I have been interested in the development of these countries’ landscapes (my interest is also in Wales and Scotland) ever since.

Hoskins wasn’t much help with towns and cities, and I sometimes struggled to apply the ideas from his book to the landscape I was looking at, it all seemed so much more complicated, the land being – that wonderful word – a palimpsest of thousands of years’ changes. To be fair to Hoskins, he was inventing a new discipline, in effect, making it up as he went along, and we know so much more, and have so many more scientific techniques, nearly sixty years later. Online resources now mean that some areas of the country can be researched using the Historic Environment Records, Extensive Urban Surveys, Historic Character Assessment Reports, or a more specific example, the Cornwall Industrial Settlements Initiative. But all this new information needs fitting into the larger context to fully understand it.

So a new book on the subject, a big fat one at that, is much to be welcomed. With the subtitle ‘How we have transformed the land from prehistory to today’, the book is arranged chronologically, and its scope is vast – starting with the retreat of the ice, Palaeolithic hunters, and rising sea levels in the Mesolithic flooding the plains and wetlands of Doggerland to create the North Sea and English Channel, taking us through to the present-day ‘Sat Nav Britain’. As Francis says, taking us from one time of major climate change to another.

There is a lot of historical and archaeological information to put things into context here; obviously very strong on the archaeology, but also covering, inter alia, architecture, industrial archaeology, garden history, geology, and planning policy. As usual, Francis doesn’t shrink from taking a polemical view, and if that stimulates debate, for example about planning or industrial agriculture (or soil-mining as I think of it), then so much the better.

Our modern landscape is strongly influenced by the underlying geology, soil, and what went before. Learning to unpick the details is enjoyable, making a walk an informative and interesting activity, rather than a pointless ramble. I’ll never have enough knowledge to be a Stewart Ainsworth, but this book provides the material to enrich any walk, urban or rural.

With its enormous breadth in time and subject matter, and covering the whole of Great Britain in varying amounts of detail, I can’t imagine anyone not gaining a lot from reading this book. It’s well-illustrated with maps, figures, colour plates, and monochrome photos (which could perhaps have been reproduced more clearly, but are far better than those in the proof copy I saw). There are copious endnotes, a ‘further reading’ section, a bibliography, a glossary and an excellent index. It’s a proper size, too, quarto rather than a large coffee-table book.

There is more information and a short interview with Francis on the Penguin website, and he’s at the Hay Festival on June the 3rd.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stoke Newington literary festival 2010

Stoke Newington’s first ever literary festival is from 4th to 6th June 2010. London’s historic home to radical writers, thinkers and dissidents plays host to a diverse array of today’s most interesting authors and poets.

Those appearing include science fiction writers China Mieville and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Orange Fiction Prize Shortlister Monique Roffey, politicians Tony Benn amd Diane Abbott, poets John Hegley and Katy Evans-Bush, Beer Writer of the Year Pete Brown hosting an event in his local The White Hart, and media favourites Jeremy Hardy and Phill Jupitus.

You can follow Stoke Newington literary festival on twitter.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

JG Farrell wins 1970 'lost' Booker Prize

The Liverpool born author J. G. Farrell has won the 1970 'lost' Booker Prize with his novel Troubles set in Ireland in 1919, just after the First World War and against the growing tension in the move for Irish independence.

Farrell, who died in an accident in 1979, also won the 1973 prize for The Siege of Krishnapur. Had Troubles actually won in 1970, Farrell would have become the first author to win the Booker twice.

Ibooknet member and Irish books specialist Karen Millward, has several copies of Troubles in stock at the time of writing.

There are two books on Farrell by Lavinia Greacen - J. G. Farrell the Making of a Writer (Bloomsbury , 1999) J. G. Farrell in His Own Words Selected Letters and Diaries (Cork University Press, 2009) which might interest those intrigued by this writer whose reputation continues to grow thirty years after his death.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Local Literary Connections

Local Literary Connections by Nigel Smith of Bagot Books

I was pondering local literary connections and people’s need to find them the other day. Some places seem steeped in literature – the west of Surrey seems to have had a lot of well-known writers living there, whereas the area of Surrey I live in doesn’t. The only author of note (that I am aware of) that ever lived in Ashtead was Beverly Nichols, and his Merry Hall trilogy is a fictionalised account of his time here.

This doesn’t stop people finding as many tenuous connections as they can. For example:

Daniel Defoe : went to school in Dorking.

George Eliot : used to enjoy walking near Dorking.

Charles Dickens : stayed at a hotel in Dorking and the town is mentioned in The Pickwick Papers.

Jane Austen : set The Watsons in Dorking (Austen almost certainly would have visited the town as she lived for a while in Bookham, which is only a few miles away), and, the most famous Dorking literary connection of all: eponymous Emma has a picnic on Box Hill.

George MacDonald : he did actually live in Ashtead, although only for a few months - he came here to die and had his funeral here. I don’t think he ever put pen to paper while he was here, unless it was to sign his will.

The writer mentioned most often, and the one most local people seem to have heard of, in connection with Ashtead, is Samuel Pepys. He has a small cul-de-sac named after him. Now, Pepys lived in London and Brampton in Huntingdonshire, but his cousin had lived in Ashtead (it is speculated that Park Farm was his house) and the young Samuel visited his family there. He came to Ashtead at least twice during the period he was writing his diary, but didn’t seem to think much of it.

25th July 1663 [He had come to take the waters at Epsom but there was no room available so] “I went towards Ashsted, and there we got a lodging in a little hole we could not stand upright in. While supper was getting I walked up and down behind my cosen Pepys’s house that was, which I find comes little short of what I took it to be when I was a little boy.” The other visit mentioned in his diary, in 1667, involves Samuel bringing some friends to show them his old haunts, but he was unable to find the footpaths through the woods he remembered from his childhood, and he sprained his ankle badly as well. That’s about the sum of Pepys’ Ashtead connection. And for Ashtead, that’s it really.

However, there are a couple of local literary heavyweights with stronger connections. Jane Austen’s writing was influenced by that of Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840), who lived for some time at Westhumble near Dorking. She was a friend of Samuel Johnson (Hester Thrale introduced them), and she wrote of their meetings in her Diary. She spent five years of her life (1786-1890) “her talents wasted in the folding of muslins” as Horace Walpole put it, as Second Keeper of the Robes to Queen Charlotte. And then, while staying with her sister Susanna Phillips near Westhumble, she visited the French émigrés living at Juniper Hall at Mickleham – refugees from the French Revolution – and met a General Alexandre D'Arblay, who she married in 1793 at St Michael’s Church, Mickleham.

Fanny wrote a number of plays (mostly unperformed), four novels (Evelina, Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer), but is probably best known for her Diary which was published posthumously in 1841.

Not far at all from Fanny Burney’s Camilla Cottage is Flint Cottage. Here, one of my favourite Victorian novelists lived and worked: George Meredith (1828-1909). He married Thomas Love Peacock’s daughter, a widow, who ran off with a Pre-Raphaelite painter nine years later. She died in 1861 and Meredith later married again, moving to Surrey.

Flint Cottage sits in a hollow at the foot of the dip slope of Box Hill, and a Swiss-style chalet in the garden still exists; here Meredith used to write and entertain his friends (including Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle and J M Barrie). William Sharp described it as

“a little brown wooden house of the simplest, but to many friends richer in ardent memories than any palace in treasures … with its outlook down grassy terraces and pansied garden-rows across to the green thorn-stunted slope of Box Hill, and its glimpse leftward up that valley where still in nightingale-weather may be seen in a snow of bloom the wild white cherry which inspired the lines:

Fairer than the lily, than the wild white cherry / Fair as an image my seraph love appears …”

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Diana of the Crossways, and The Egoist are among his more famous novels; Richard Feverel was his earliest, and it caused him problems for some years because of its sexual frankness – “I am tabooed from all decent drawing-room tables” he said. Later in life he advised Thomas Hardy not to publish a book as he felt it would jeopardise his career as a novelist – advice from the heart. My favourite title of all his novels is ‘The Shaving of Shagpat’, but the book itself is written in the episodic style of a humorous Arabian Nights and is, in my mind, his least enjoyable book.

The two things about his writing that stand out for me are the strong female characters in his novels, and in both his poetry and prose the intimate descriptions of the countryside settings – often Surrey or the Thames, but various other parts of England and on the European mainland also.

George Meredith left Flint Cottage to the National Trust, presumably expecting them to keep it in trust in perpetuity. However, last year the 99-year lease was for sale for £1.35 million.

But all this begs my original question, which was why people need to find literary (and televisual, for that matter) connections? I presume 'Shakespeare's Country' was the original, but now as well as Hardy's Wessex we have Cookson, Heartbeat, and Emmerdale Countries, Ian Rankin's Edinburgh, and so on. It's understandable that people would like to know or visit the country that a particular novel is set in - Antony House, the Cornish National Trust property which was the location for the Tim Burton Alice film, has seen visitor numbers swell tenfold. Notwithstanding whether this is a Good Thing, why are people so desperate to find some famous association (however slight) with their home town?

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