70 years of Penguin design
The Victoria and Albert Museum is marking the
70th birthday of Penguin with an exhibition of some 500
of Penguin's iconic book covers. Penguin, the idea of
the Managing Director of The Bodley Head, Allen Lane in
1935, established the market for paperback books.
Allen, inspired by the dearth of affordable books,
sought to publish attractive reprints at time when most
in the publishing industry thought the idea ridiculous
and Allen had difficulty in obtaining the rights for
the initial list of ten books.
On view will be the familiar, classic orange fiction
paperbacks, the striking monochrome cover of Ulysses
and the iconic, menacing design of Anthony Burgess'
Clockwork Orange. Also included are contemporary covers
by noted artists such as Peter Saville and Sara
Fanelli, the latter of whom won the V&A
Illustration Awards in 2004. The exhibition continues
until 13 November 2005.
Two books have also been published to mark Penguin's
anniversary and to coincide with the exhibition: Phil
Baines' Penguin by Design - A Cover Story 1935 -
2005, which includes an exhaustive series of
illustration of penguin wrappers; and Jeremy Lewis's
excellent biography, The Life and Time of Allen
Signed 'Mein Kampf' sold
A signed first edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has
been sold for £23,800 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London.
The work - which translates as My Struggle - became the
bible of National Socialism in Hitler's Third Reich.
Originally called Four Years of Struggle against Lies,
Stupidity and Cowardice, it was first published in two
The book, which was auctioned on 15th June and was part
of a lot of signed postcards and other stationery from
high-ranking Nazis, is the first volume, written when
Hitler was in Landsberg prison after the abortive Beer
Hall Putsch of 1923. The work was dictated to Rudolf
Hess, also imprisoned for his part in the putsch, and
its first print run was for 500 copies. The second
volume was written shortly after Hitler's release. By
1939 Mein Kampf had sold 5,200,000 copies and had been
translated into 11 languages. It was provided as a
school textbook after Hitler came to power in 1933 and
was given to all German newlyweds. It still cannot be
sold in some countries - notably Germany.
Crime Writing Festival -
As part of the Harrogate Festival, Harrogate is once
again hosting the
Crime Writing Festival from 21-24 July.
The award for the Crime Novel of the Year sponsored by
Theakstons will be made on 21st July and there are a
number of workshops, discussion groups, lectures and
other events taking place at The Cedar Court Hotel.
Those attending include Alexander Mccall Smith, Michael
Connelly, Ruth Rendell and Val McDermid.
The Barsetshire novels of …
Darkwood Online Book
Angela Thirkell’s gentle romantic Barsetshire comedies
are set in Trollope’s imaginary shire, but date from
the 1930’s to 1950’s. There are 29 of them, including
the last one, ' Three score and Ten', which was
completed by C.A. LeJeune after her death. They
chronicle the lives and marriages of a handful of upper
and middle class families, the descendents of
Trollope’s Thorns and Grantlys, with only one book
being without an engagement ('Enter Sir Robert') and
one, 'The Duke’s Daughter', having a record four!
Even before the Second World War starts in '
Cheerfulness Breaks' In there is an aspect of social
history to the novels, as the families adapt to
changing circumstances, fewer servants and less income.
The war years themselves are a vivid account of
countryside ‘rations’, making do, and the strain of the
women who wait to hear the fate of their serving
husbands and sons. The joy of the books to the modern
reader is her insights, humour and warmth, in a world
where your early morning tea still appeared on your
bedside table, on a properly laid tea tray.
Thirkell was born in London in 1890, the granddaughter
of pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, and a
cousin of Kipling. Angela's brother, Denis Mackail, was
also a successful novelist and her son, Colin MacInnes,
was the author of 'Absolute Beginners'. Her father was
Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Hamish
Hamilton published the Barsetshire novels from 'High
Rising' in 1933 to ' Three Score and Ten' in 1961.
Penguin brought out the original paperback edition and
reprinted some titles in the mid to late 1990’s.
Since 1995 Moyer Bell has been reprinting all the
Barsetshire novels and also Angela Thirkell’s World, a
complete guide to the places and people of Barsetshire
by Barbara Burrell. Some titles have recently been
issued in large print by Isis Publishing, who are also
starting to produce audio-tapes of some of the novels.
However the hardback editions are always in demand,
particularly by the members of the very active Angela
Thirkell Society. On their website you can find an
summary of all the books written by Amalia Angeloni
Jacobucci. Thirkell also wrote short stories, a book of
children's stories ('The Grateful Sparrow'), an
historical novel, a biography of Harriette Wilson and
three semi-autobiographical novels.
The ABA Antiquarian Bookfair at
Olympia, June 2005
Jessica Mulley - The Virtual Bookshelf
I felt like an intrepid explorer. Usually quite content
in our small and quiet corner of South East London,
just a couple of weeks ago, the June London Book Fairs
tempted me to scramble half way across London to
Hammersmith for the ABA Antiquarian Book Fair. It's on
days like these that I forget that I'm a bookseller by
trade and fix my collector's hat snugly in place. With
exhibitors, dealers in the finest books, drawn from all
over the world, I knew I was in for a treat. And with
my flexible friend in hand and
husband-cum-financial-controller left at home, I was
planning to treat myself as well.
Jeremy Paxman, patron of the fair, begins his
introductory remarks by stating that "if the book isn't
dead, it is on a journey somewhere between the
intensive care ward and the mortuary". He cites in
support of his premise the growth of alternative
leisure activities, the decline of high street second
hand bookshops and the penetration of the internet as
an informational and research tool. Almost as an aside,
he dismisses the on line availability of second hand
books as a "remarkably efficient way" to find a book
"as long as you don't really care about the state of
thing you're buying". Of course, I think he is quite
wrong, and his unnecessarily downbeat analysis of the
second hand book trade, took the spring out of my step
even before I reached Olympia. I could write an essay
on this topic - but I'll spare you for now. Anyhow, I
needn't have worried. Within moments of arriving, such
thoughts were quickly dispelled by a dazzling array of
some of the finest books in world.
I'm no longer surprised by the attitude of some eminent
booksellers but I am still irritated by it. A number of
the stands were uninviting and at times I felt that I
had to push my way past an imperceptible barrier of
superiority and intimidation just to look at the wares
on offer. As a women in a traditionally male
environment I've become used to being treated with
diffidence and even at times overlooked but I really
was quite taken aback to be twice asked, at different
stands, if I was with or buying for my husband or my
The majority of course were friendly, welcoming and
helpful. Adrian Harrington's stand could be compared to
a man with come-to-bed eyes. My eyes were drawn to
their fine selection of modern firsts including
Fleming, Douglas Adams, and Agatha Christie. The
centrepiece, to my mind, was a lovely UK 1st, 1st state
copy of Heller's Catch 22 in its original jacket - a
little foxed and on offer for £1650.
Heritage Books is always worth a visit, even if
just to feast one's eyes on their beautifully
presented fine books. This time however my credit
card took a hit for a large volume of Anglo-Saxon
Poetry. More Fleming's on offer. Jonker's Rare
Books was a real treat too with a superbly
displayed collection of Beatrix Potter on offer,
including an original watercolour on cotton of
Benjamin Bunny presented in a custom made inlay
box together with a first edition Benjamin Bunny.
I didn't dare ask the price. More Fleming's.
A lovely American first of Tolkien's The Hobbit stood
out at Peter Stern's. The publisher's promotion banner,
still in place, proclaimed "Its place is with Alice in
Wonderland and Wind in the Willows… the Hobbit may well
prove a classic". More modern firsts at Nigel Williams,
the most interesting being a lovely 1st of Elergy on
Dead Fashion inscribed by Edith Sitwell to E M Forster
(£475). Bow Windows Bookshop had a wonderful copy of
Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination illustrated by
Arthur Rackham but in
some ways more reminiscent of William Blake. Next to
it was a superb copy of Quiller Couch's Sleeping Beauty
illustrated by Edmund Dulac (30 coloured plates tipped
in with captioned tissues, original gilt decorated
pebbled cloth, slight rubbing to spine ends and corners
- £350). Even Stephen Foster, whose stand was by far
the most welcoming of all, trumped this for Rackham
fans at least, with a delightful original Rackham
watercolour (which was reproduced as the frontispiece
for Stephen James' Irish Fairy Tales). I was sorely
tempted by the most beautiful copy of Pride and
Prejudice in a fine modern binding but contented myself
by reserving a William Hazlitt.
A selection of the stunning work of the Chelsea Bindery
was on show at Peter Harrington's. Their signed first
of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird, bound in full
green morocco, would have graced my bookshelves were it
not for the earlier purchases.
Footsore and weighed down by all that Anglo Saxon
poetry, I regretted the absence of a shuttle bus
between the ABA fair that of the PBFA, this year being
held at the Novotel a few minutes walk down the road.
It wasn't until I was approaching the Novotel that I
remembered I'd bought a travelcard that morning and
could have just hopped on one of the buses going down
I think the PBFA's move from the pleasant Commonwealth
Institute to the Novotel is a mistake. The venue was
cavernous and poorly lit with that sort of
public-sector, hardwearing carpet that offers no
comfort to those who mistakenly put on heeled rather
than walking boots that morning. Such conditions didn't
show off the books, or the booksellers, at their best.
Other than the occasional chat with friends and
colleagues, there was little to make me pause as a
toured the stalls. Perhaps it was tiredness, or my
still sore feet, or the temptation of an enticing wine
bar at the end of road, but I left, uninspired and
credit card balance intact, barely an hour later.
(First published, without the images, in
Jessica Mulley's 'blog' 26th June 2005
A Major Charity Booksale at Turville
A unique charity bookshop opens its
doors from Thursday August 4th to
Sunday August 7th from 10.00am to
4.00pm daily. This consists of a barn
full of new and second-hand books of all
categories including first editions and
leather-bound books, and a very large
tent full of 50p books representing
The event will be well
signposted from exit 5 of the M40 and is
half a mile from Turville (just follow
the pink signs) and parking is free. The
charities are the Elizabeth
Finn Trust and Thames Valley Adventure
Red House Childrens Book Award
The Red House Children's Book Award for 2005 has been
won by Simon James for "Baby Brains". James' book,
perfect antidote for parents who feel pressurised to
keep up with other parents in order to have the
brightest baby, features an extraordinary baby who
reads the paper, mends the car and works as a doctor at
the hospital at only two weeks old.
The Red House Children's Book Award is the only award
to be given entirely on the basis of votes by children.
Over 25,000 young readers took part in this year. Now
in it's 25th year, previous winners include Roald Dahl
for The BFG in 1983 , Jacqueline Wilson for Double Act
in 1996 and J K Rowling for Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone in 1998. Vis.
The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropist without royalties!
Robert Tressell's classic novel of socialism 'The
Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' is widely
acknowledged to be the greatest working-class novel of
all time. The book has run through at least 111
editions since it was published in 1914, three years
after Tressell's death plus at least 8 stage editions.
The family and estate of Tressell have, in all that
time, received only £25.00 which was paid to the
author's daughter, Kathleen, by Grant Richards for the
copyright when he was presented with the manuscript
after her father's death. This copyright covered the
heavily cut editions published until 1955, including
several from the then British Communist party
publishers Lawrence and Wishart.
In 1955 Lawrence and Wishart published the first
unabridged text, most of it put together by Kathleen,
her daughter Joan and their supporters. In 1964 the
Grant Richards copyright expired, giving the family a
chance, which they did notice at the time, of arguing
legally that the unabridged edition constituted a new
copyright in which they should have a share. However,
it was discovered then that royalties were being paid
to the grand-daugher of Martin Secker, who was a
director of Grant Richards.
Reg Johnson, the widower of Tressell's grand-daughter,
Joan, would like to tap the royalty stream from the
book to underwrite the Robert Tressell Foundation,
which costs him £1000 a year from his government
pension, so that the archives which he houses in small
house in East Grindstead could be built on and made
more accessible to the wider public, who visit from all
over the world to research the papers.
Shelley letters auctioned
The recently discovered letters by the poet Percy
Bysshe Shelley (see
March 2005 Newsletter) written to Ralph Wedgwood -
a member of the pottery family - between December 1810
and February 1811, have sold for £45,600, including
buyer's premium, in a books and manuscripts sale.at the
London auction rooms of Christies.
Next Month: The feature for
August 2005 will be by Alba Books