Sunday, 7 November 2010

So Very Congenial

So Very Congenial by Leila Burton Wells. An extract from the beginning of a risque shorty story that appeared in the, June 7, 1919, issue of John O'London's Weekly.

Billy Everard was riding one of his pet hobbies.
"Given two individuals with similar tastes," he said to his guests, "you could put them in any old place, on a desert island even, and they'd soon be - what we call in love. You've got to have community of tastes. Look at my wife and me, for instance"
"Oh Billy, please don't!" Mrs. Everad exspostulated plaintively, just as dinner was finished, and arose to lead the way into the drawing-room.
"Well, my dear, everyone knows we are happily married. It isn't anything to be ashamed of! But what everyone doesn't know," Billy rode on, "is the reason - absolute congeniality of tastes."
One of the women, as she put her after dinner coffee cup on a tabouret beside her, cast a penetrating glance at Mrs Everad. "I suppose it's true," she hazarded doubtfully, "and it's wonderful, if it is true, but you don't look as if you loved to sit in hot grand stands at cricket matches and polo matches, and go camping in the summer with mosquitoes biting your toes, and no cold cream for your face, and your hair all out of curl."
"But she does, though," her best friend defended. "She honestly just adores everything he likes - even that awful vaudeville. They go twice a week," fondly pushing one of the jewelled combs closer into Mrs. Everad's curly sable-coloured hair. "An ideal marriage with an awfully big accent on the ideal, isn't it, dearie?"
Mrs. Everad laughed with the others, but she looked at them, as she did so, from under her long screening lashes and wondered if they knew! Wondered passionately if they were playing the same game in different ways, all of them! Were they all pretending! Had these other women found out her secret, too? ....

I will post the next section of the story if someone requests it. Ask by leaving a message in the Comments Box below.

Twitter In A Nutshell

Lesson in Using Twitter:
Twitter is a place for people who like to tell other people about what they are doing.

An Example:

Person 1; "I'm on the bus."
Person 1's Follower; "Are you?"
Person 1; "Yes."
Person 1's Follower; "What bus is it?"
Person 1; "The 152."
Person 1's Follower; "I like that bus."
Person 1; "So do I."

Walking and Talking

The Lesson

As we are all aware walking is quite a difficult skill to learn, so trying to talk at the same time as walking can be an accident waiting to happen. So I would advise anyone considering attempting to walk and talk simultaneously to practice each individual skill for at least two years before doubling up.

Friday, 5 November 2010

BBC Journalist Strike

Update: Strike now over. No further news to report.

Because of the National Union of Journalists strike on today I have decided to help keep the nation informed of the major breaking news stories from around the world. I will do this for the next forty-eight hours while the strike is ongoing. I will be updating the news every hour.

UK News: A Public House and Hotel just up the road from our office has been badly damaged in a fire.
A survey conducted by conductors has concluded that waving a stick around is not really a proper job.
A celebrity has probably been sleeping with someone other than his regular partner.

World News: A volcano has erupted.
The Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi has been caught on camera doing something that does not involve a young woman.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

In Search of the Southwold Snob

This is a short lesson in finding a Southwold Snob. Try to look in the seaside town of Southwold as this will give you a much better chance of success.
The first thing you must do is walk up to a person that you suspect of being a Southwold Snob and ask them for directions to Lowestoft. If they give you directions to Lowestoft you have not found a Southwold Snob. If they deny that they have ever heard of Lowestoft you might have found a Southwold Snob. To confirm this you should also ask them if they know where you can purchase some candyfloss. If the individual then walks away from you without even answering this question you can be certain that you have found a Southwold Snob. Good hunting.

Did Shakespeare Read The News?

Of all the writers Shakespeare is the least "topical." His silence on the great figures and events of his time is weird. Yet if we know anything about him we are sure that he was a man of the world, a good "mixer," the friend of great men, a Londoner among Londoners. All that he knew about human nature he learned from the life around him. All the pulsations of his genius must have sprung from the events and conditions under which he lived. How came it, then, that this man about whom his period is so silent, is so silent about his period?

Lowestoft Pie

Simple instructions on how to make a delicious Lowestoft Pie.

1. Large Cabbage
2. 5 Herrings

Cut a large cabbage in half and lay 5 herrings on top of the flat edge of one half of the cabbage, and then place the other half of the cabbage on top so you end up with a whole cabbage once again with the tails of the herrings sticking out of one side of the cabbage, and the heads of the herrings sticking out of the other. Then using string tie the two halves of the cabbage tightly together. Place in a preheated oven on gas mark 5 for two days, and serve with boiled eggs. Enjoy.

The Covehithe Creature

Legend has it that a massive sea-monster emerged from the depths of the North Sea to climb the cliffs at Covehithe in Suffolk, where it destroyed the village, eating its terrified inhabitants and pulling apart the huge church that once stood like a bastion of Christian faith against the wild and stormy seas. No evidence has ever been found to verify the existence of this terrible creature from the deep, but local people still say they have heard the ungodly screams of their ancestors on dark stormy nights. Below is a photograph of the old church at Covehithe as it looks today, and below that is a picture of one of the jolly locals.

The Lowestoft Gold

I have been researching the mystery of the lost 'Lowestoft Gold' for many years now, and I can now publish my findings here for the first time.
In 1456 a Spanish merchant vessel was blown off course in a violent storm and sought safe harbour on the sands of North Lowestoft. This vessel was transporting gold coins from Spain to the New World. Records show that the sailors aboard the ship were attacked by local inhabitants who feared that this was the beginning of an invasion. The Spanish crew fought off the attackers and then tried desperately to pull their ship off the sands to make their escape, but the weight of the huge amount of gold prevented them from doing so. At the order of the ships Captain the crew then unloaded the gold and dug a tunnel into the Cliffs (Gunton Cliff) where they buried the horde of coins. The Spanish were then able to make their escape back out to the safety of the North Sea. Over the next few years the Spanish tried in vain to send ships to try and recover their lost treasure, but sadly for them the area of cliffs they had buried the coins in had collapsed making the job of identifying the correct spot impossible. So in conclusion the treasure is still there, and maybe with the passing of time, and with the help of the constant coastal erosion along this stretch of North Suffolk we will once again see the glinting of the 'Lowestoft Gold.' Below is a picture of how the cliffs look today with the new seawall in the foreground.

I'm Cut Off

Deciding to live as far east as it is possible to live within the United Kingdom I do appreciate that I must expect to face some difficulties when trying to drive to anywhere else within these islands. But can someone explain to me why a journey from Lowestoft to the centre of London, which is approximately 103 miles as the crow flies should take over 3 hours. I would also love to hear from anyone who can tell me why most of the people who have lived in this area all their lives, actually appear not to care about being cut-off from the rest of our nation. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

First Ever John O'London's Weekly

This is a very rare copy of the first ever issue of John O'London's Weekly which was published by George Newnes on Saturday, April 12, 1919. The editor was Wilfred Whitten (John O'London). The first short story was entitled Secret Service by F. Britten Austin. The feature article was written by H.G. Wells.

Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse

P.G. Wodehouse in a nutshell. This episode of the parrot is part of the plot, and it is an injustice to seperate it from the book; and yet a small portion must be quoted.

"Good-bye, boy!" said the parrot, clinging to his bars.
Nelly thrust a finger into the cage, and scratched his head.
"Anxious to get rid of me, aren't you? Well, so long."
"Good-bye, boy!"
"All right, I'm going. Be good!"
"Woof-woof-woof!" barked Bill the parrot, not committing himself to any promises.
For some moments after Nelly had gone he remained hunched on his perch, contemplating the infinite. Then he sauntered along to the seed-box and took some more light nourishment. He always liked to spread his meals out, to make them last longer. A drink of water to wash the food down, and he returned to the middle of the cage, where he proceeded to conduct a few intimate researches with his beak under his left wing. After which he mewed like a cat, and relapsed into silent meditation once more. He closed his eyes and pondered on his favourite problem. Why was he a parrot?

Jack London in Prison

This remarkable story about Jack London's time spent in an American prison was published for the first time in John O'London's Weekly on April 2, 1921. In 1894 he was convicted of sleeping in a field. One of the many vagrants who lost their liberty during the late 19th and early 20th century in the USA. This is just a short extract from the article.

Jack London, marching in lock-step, went out to hard labour in the yards. He tried to mail a letter. The guards laughed at him. He learned that short-timers were not allowed to write letters; that when long-timers wrote them the letters were read and destroyed or pigeon-holed in the office. He found that the prison was cut off entirely from the outside world, a hell enclosed in stone walls, ruled by brutality and horror and fear. He heard the screams of men hung up by the thumbs, gnawing their arms in agony, shrieking till unconsciousness ended their torture. He saw half-starved men caught hiding bits of bread in their shirts and brutally punished for it. He heard, from the corners of mouths trained to speak without lip-movement, incredible and monstrous things more hideous, and he saw that those tales were true. For the first time in his life fear entered his own soul.
He walked warily and shuddering through the horrors around him. Strength and courage would not avail him; he fell back upon craft. He considered men in his hall and selected a friend. "Pittsburg Jack" was a yegg, experienced in the ways of prison. Having a pull with the head trusty, who had done time with him in Sing Sing years before, he had himself become a trusty, holding inestimable privilages of tobacco and matches and opportunities for graft as payment for ruling the hundred wretches in his tier of cells.
About forty, kindly, humorous, utterly unscrupulous, with a dry philosophy of his own, he responded to the advances made by young "Frisco Jack" London. He saw good qualities in the boy; courage, enterprise, honour. Frisco Jack was a square kid; he wouldn't go back on a pal in a pinch, no matter how bad the bulls beat him up. He was worth cultivating, ....

Monday, 1 November 2010

Though the Frost Was Cruel

The beginning of a short story written by Joan Thompson in 1920. This appeared in John O'London's Weekly. I have been unable to find very much information about Miss Thompson. All I do know is she was born in Gloucestershire, and was living in Herefordshire at the time she wrote this story. She also wrote a novel entitled "Mary England" which was published by Methuen.

Though the Frost Was Cruel

The Dark Orchard lay in the hollow of two hills, one perhaps as high again as the other. In the length of fifty years it had not changed very much. It was darker because the trees were thicker and more heavily boughed, but it had always looked old, and even the young trees grew gnarled quickly. To see it in spring from the top of either hill was to look down on an impenetrable mass of blossom. In autumn the dark red apples hung from the trees in wonderful contrast to the yellow, stricken leaves. It was easy, even in winter, to hide in the orchard from the eye of the inquisitive, whether in the fork of a bough or by merely sitting on the stile in the upper corner, farthest away from the house.
In the sixties the Dark Orchard belonged to Keturah Ash. She had been a widow for many years, and in age kept pace with the century, for she had been born in the early spring of 1800.
Keturah Ash had lived a hard life, and at sixty-five any softness there might have been in her nature had died an easy death. She was not a poor woman, for those were days when to be poor was to know the deep meaning of poverty. And Keturah had never starved, never physically starved. Her husband had left her house and land, a handful of acres known as Grey Hill Farm. For twenty years she had worked it herself, even laying her hedges, planting and harvesting her corn, rearing and tending her small herd of stock. In the autumn of the year she employed two women to do the digging, for no horse or plough ever passed over her land. The digging done, she sowed her corn, marking the furrows with a line, covering the last as she worked the next. ......

Crimefile Number 1

Below is a scanned image of the cover of the book Crimefile Number 1: File on Bolitho Blane by Dennis Wheatley. This was a new concept in detective fiction published by William Morrow in 1936. Inside the book the clues to solve the crime are placed on the pages. For instance there is actual hair from the head of one of the victims inside an evidence bag  taped in, plus numerous other items laid in throughout the book. Sadly there was never to be a Crimefile Number 2 as William Morrow found that it was far too expensive to produce any more books of this type.

Claudine Auger

This is just one set of photographs of Claudine Auger featured in "The Dude" magazine from May, 1960. Miss Auger had been crowned Miss France in 1958, and went on to appear in the James Bond film Thunderball.

Blue Bell Wranglers

The advert below for "Blue Bell Wranglers" is from the back cover of "The Dude" magazine published in May, 1960.

The Dude

'The Dude' was an American top-shelf magazine that tried to distance itself from the down market glamour publications of the period. Using established writers, artists, and top photographers they attempted to appeal to the more well-heeled "gentleman," and for the first time featured articles that might attract a female readership. The pictures below come from 'The Dude' issue of May, 1960, the artist was Alan Woods. Contents included tasteful nudity, some risque photographs of the French actress Claudine Auger, but also some very well written essays.

Mens Magazines in the 1950s

'For Men Only' published in America by Canam was typical of the titles available for adults only in the 1950s. This issue dates from December, 1957. They featured a mixture of topical news stories from around the world with strange tales of the more saucy variety. There was no nudity allowed unless they featured "savage tribes women" in varying degrees of undress. They were allowed to have raunchy fiction short stories which were usually illustrated using glamour models in provocative poses. Cover headlines were very important to grab the customers attention, as you can see below with "The Lesbian Clubs of Place Pigalle," and "The Nudes Who Decoyed An Army."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Mens Magazines in the 1960s

21 Magazine. This American publication was published in 1960 by Monogram and always tried to test the patience of the censor. It would fill its pages with topless ladies, humorous articles, risque cartoons, and titillating stories.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Publishing in the Electronic Era

This article was written by Iain Sproat in 1969. Published in Books and Bookmen.

I predict that the most far reaching changes in publishing in the 1970s will be brought about by greatly diversified uses of electronics. And of these uses, none will more alter the face of publishing than the process known as Electronic Video Recording, or EVR for short.
In case there remains anyone who does not know what EVR is, let me give you a brief description. A cassette, measuring roughly 7 in, x 7 in, x 1 in., and enclosing a tape which has on it both film and sound, is slotted into an attachment to a television set. The television then plays the film on its screen. Not only this: the film and the sound can be stopped in mid-flight, and studied as a still. And it can be wound only slowly, by hand, frame by frame. Or, because the tape carries two frames, side by side, you can switch from frame A to frame B and back again. As a movie, the cassette lasts approximately 50 minutes, but the whole process is so miniaturised that you can put every page of the Encyclopaedia Britannica on one-and-a-half tapes. .....

Jack London and Mills & Boon

Whatever happened to the book publishers Mills & Boon?
Here is a photograph of Jack London's 'The Jacket' which was published by Mills and Boon in 1915, followed by a photograph of one of their latest titles.

"Poet In The Boat House" Dylan Thomas

This issue of John O'London's Weekly from August 7, 1953, includes a very rare interview carried out by Mimi Josephson with the welsh poet Dylan Thomas at his house in Laugharne. On the inside pages there are photographs of the house, and Dylan Thomas' children. This interview gives a great insight into the way Thomas worked and lived. Sadly the poet died 3 months after this publication was released.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Joseph Bato - Defiant City

This wonderful drawing by Joseph Bato is just one of many from the book entitled "Defiant City" by Bato, with an introduction by J.B. Priestley. Published in 1942 it shows the devastation inflicted on London and its inhabitants during the Blitz. This drawing shows women and children from the East End sheltering in an Underground Station. Click on the image to increase the size.

The Phantom Horsewoman

Queer are the ways of a man I know:
He comes and stands
In a careworn craze,
And looks at the sands
And the seaward haze
With moveless hands
And face and gaze
Then turns to go ...
And what does he see when he gazes so?

They say he sees as an instant thing
More clear than to-day,
A sweet soft scene
That once was in play
By that briny green;
Yes, notes alway
Warm, real, and keen,
What his back years bring,
A phantom of his own figuring.

Of this vision of his they might say more:
Not only there
Does he see this sight,
But everywhere
In his brain-day, night,
As if on the air
If were drawn rose bright-
Yea, far from that shore
Does he carry this vision of heretofore:

A ghost-girl-rider. And though, toil-tried,
He withers daily,
Time touches her not,
But she still rides gaily
In his rapt thought
On that shagged and shaly
Atlantic spot,
And as when first eyed
Draws rein and sings to the swing of the tide.

Thomas Hardy from the July 30, 1927 issue of John O'London's Weekly

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Science Fiction and Fantasy Classics

Just one of the hundreds of classic Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines available at contact us for details.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mollie Panter-Downes

This is an extract from the beginning of a short story entitled 'Only A Silly Memory" written by the seventeen year old Mollie Panter-Downes  in 1924. Published in John O'London's Weekly, June 7, 1924.

She wanted diamonds, but he dissuaded her.
"No, not diamonds for you."
"Why not?"
"They are so brilliant."
"Am I not brilliant?"
"Yes, but not in that hard, passionless way. I want you to have emeralds. They suit your temperament."
She smiled at this a little vaguely.
"Green for jealousy? Beware, Robert!"
"You know that it is not you who are likely to run risks on that score! I consider that I am a brave man to marry such a beautiful woman."
This pleased her. She felt sleek and well fed and purring.
"Am I beautiful?"
"Too beautiful for peace of mind. But to return to the emeralds, they are your jewel without a question. Like you, they are flawless, deeply lustrous, glowing with a thousand hidden fires. Like you, too, a little inscrutable. They are not brazenly beautiful, like diamonds, nor intimate, like pearls. They have an air of mystery, as if they are guarding some deep, centuries-old secret. You also have that delicate air. Give me the delight of seeing you wearing emeralds, Flavia."
So not unwillingly, she gave in.
They went to a big Bond Street jeweller's together. The attendent who looked like a blase young god in a frock-coat, brought out for them, with the air of one conferring an Olympian favour, trays of emerald rings. They looked wicked, winking up at Flavia in the softly-shaded lght. She tried on rings set with stones of all shapes and sizes - square, oval, hoops, clusters.
Robert would have none of them. He conferred with the Olympian young man, who brought forth from some mysterious hiding place a platinum ring set with one huge emerald. She tried it on - it fitted perfectly. She laid her hand on the black velvet which covered the counter, the effect was ravishing. The big stone looked like a drop of creme de menthe spilt on the whiteness of her hand.
"Do you like it, Robert?"
"It is your ........

Friday, 15 October 2010

Scarce Pulp Publications

The demand for new book titles in the 1940s and early 1950s was quite amazing. New publishers of mass market "Pulp" style literature helped to fill the news stands with risque fiction stories like the one below. They used highly evocative cover art to help attract their audience, and back cover advertising to help keep the price of these titles very low. Many of these books are now sought after collector's items, and this one in particular is very rare indeed.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Literary News from October 25, 1924

These snippets of literary news have been taken from the John O'London's Weekly issue of this date.

Mr. Thomas Hardy wrote thirty years ago a dramatic version of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." Until recently he resisted every offer to stage it, but he has now handed it over to the amateur players of Dorchester, his native town, who will produce it during the last week of November.

Messrs. Kegan Paul are publishing a very ambitious series of books to comprehend "The History of Civilisation." It is possible that the series will eventually comprise upwards of two hundred volumes, designed to form a complete library of social evolution from the earliest times to the present day.

A new novel by Miss Victoria Sackville-West is appearing shortly. The scene is laid in Ecuador.

Mr. E.F. Benson is now at his country home, Lamb House, Rye, formerly the residence of Henry James. Devoted to country life, Mr. Benson is an excellent golfer and a keen naturalist.

Trudy Takes Charge

If you happen to serve a Dominatrix called Trudy, this could be the perfect Christmas gift for her.

Nice to Aunt Ada

This is an extract from the beginning of a very rare original short story by Campbell Nairne published in John O'London's Weekly in 1939.

"And now don't forget," Jenny's mother said as they stood on the doorstep together, waiting for the glass-panelled door to open, "don't forget that you've got to be nice to Aunt Ada."
The little girl nodded. There had been no need to remind her. For as long as she could remember it had been dinned into her ears that she must be Nice to Aunt Ada. It was something that she had to do, like cleaning her teeth twice a day and swallowing cod-liver oil. She did it dutifully, not without wishing sometimes that Aunt Ada would be nice to her. But then Aunt Ada was nice to nobody; she was a bad old woman. Jenny had heard even her mother say that, and as for her father - well, he made rustling noises with his paper whenever her name was mentioned. "I'll never darken that woman's door," he had said, and nothing would persuade him to come with them when they went to call on her. That was very wrong of him (inconsiderate, her mother called it), for Aunt Ada was rich, and as her godchild you were probably going to inherit nearly all her money when she died. But only if you kept on being nice to her.....
The jangling of the bell died away, and they saw a movement in the shadowy recess between the door and the outline of the stairs. An aproned figure loomed up, stained amber by the coloured panels. It remained there for some time, motionless, like a fish seen through the wall of an aquarium. Finally it came forward. The door was drawn back, though not to its fullest extent, and a .......


The "slim and slender" figure has had a good innings. Now we will pay homage to the "rotund." And so here is your sentence.

"Let me have men about me that are fat."

Re-arrange the letters to make a new sentence or phrase appropriate to the original. All the letters in the quotation must be used and no others. For the best attempt I offer a prize of one guineapig. Entries must be made on postcards and should be sent to the wife of a portly gentleman. Or you can just write your entry in the Comments Box below.

Literary News from December 10, 1927

These snippets of literary news have been taken from the John O'London's Weekly issue of this date.

Mr. E.V. Lucas is off to Rio for a couple of months. He has not been at all well lately.

Mr. James Stephens, the Irish novelist, is to make London his permanent home. Hitherto he has spent his time between Dublin, Paris and Wembley.

The world's best selling novel is now said to be Edward Noyes Westcott's "David Harum," the sales of which have touched the twenty million mark in the United States, after twenty years continuous selling. The author was a clerk in a small American town.

"The Secret of the Creek" is to be the title of the next novel by Victor Bridges. The scene is laid in Suffolk.

Mr. J.B. Morton (better known to Daily Express readers as "Beachcomber") is, I hear, engaged on a novel which will deal very largely with the Irish Rebellion of 1916.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Conversation in Thursday Street

This is a short extract from the beginning of an original story published in the May 17, 1940 John O'London's Weekly by Margery Sharp entitled "Conversation in Thursday Street."

Sherrard was motoring through Suffolk, and had just reached the village of Thursday Street when the radiator-cap on his car worked loose and flew off. By great good luck he found it again, and also a saddler's shop whose owner expressed himself capable of cutting a leather washer that would hold the thing in place; so Sherrard left his car and walked off for a leg-stretch while the job was being done.
The village did not at first sight promise much interest: it was very small, without the solid fifteenth-century charm of Lavenham or Eye, and it evidently did not attract tourists, for there were no tea-shops. "Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow," thought Sherrard; though in fact only two of the adjectives were appropriate, since he had no reason to believe the place unfriended, and under the hot sunlight it was not in the least melancholy. It was simply dull, a backwater unredeemed by picturesqueness.
As he turned from the narrow main street into a narrower lane a cat lying in his path looked up at him and yawned. Sherrard stooped to caress it, whereupon it yawned again. The cat reflected Sherrard, is the sophisticate among animals. He continued down the lane, turned , and found himself in a cul-de-sac, a sort of close, bounded on one side and at the end by tall flint walls, and on the other side by a pair of cottages, of which one was empty. "The back of beyond!" thought Sherrard; and would have turned away had not his eyes been caught by a small notice under the porch of the farther, and occupied , dwelling. Idleness and boredom impelled him to see what it said; a moment later both emotions had given way to the pleasanter sensation of curiosity.
"Modern French," read Sherrard, "taught here." .....

When Did I Become Invisible?

I was once a highly visible member of the male species. I might even go as far as to describe myself as a 'Bit of a ladies man.' I then had the misfortune of reaching forty-five years of age. That was just over six years ago, and during those one hundred and forty-four months or so I have gradualy become invisible to the female of the species. I did not give up my visibility without a fight. I tried going to the gym in a vain attempt to fight off the inevitable decline in body shape. I then spent large amounts of cash on a sports car which I had great difficulty getting in and out of. I bought the ultimate in high powered motorcycles but found that all the other men riding high powered motorcycles were as old, or older than I was. When we all met up at a local cafe it looked more like a pensioners outing than a group of dangerous bikers.
Well I am now fifty-one years old and totally invisible. I wonder how many years it will take me to come to terms with this dreadful fact?

        The Invisible Man


In this division (where there is no remainder) it will be seen that the dividend consists of the digits which occur in the divisor and quotient, none of which is zero. Most of the letters are given, the other digits being replaced by dots. Can you discover the numerical values of the nine letters involved? Write your answer in the comment box below.

TD. . A
CB . .T
. . . D
. . . D

Harold Frederick to Wilkie Collins

Some advice given to the English novelist Wilkie Collins by Harold Frederick an American journalist and novelist on how to conduct yourself when carrying out an American book tour. This short extract is taken from John O'London's Weekly, June 4, 1927.

"You are primarily, in the American mind, an eminent novelist. They have read you (in pirated cheap editions) by the score of thousands. They think of you as a cousin of Dickens, Thackeray, Reade, and the rest. Now that is your role, marked out for you by God. Stick to it. Wear reasonably conventional clothes, cultivate an intelligently conventional aspect, and do not for your life say anything about the stage, or the latter-day hard luck you have had, or anything else which will not commend itself to a popular sense which, though artistic on one side, is implacably Philistine on the other.
Two things destroy a man in America. One is the suggestion of personal eccentricity, bohemianism, etc. The other is a disposition for critisism and controversy on their own subjects. The latter is the more dangerous of the two. It is a people devoured by the newspaper habit, like the Irish, or the old Greeks of the Areopagus. They ask every few minutes, 'What is the news?' Thousands of smart young men are hustling about, fifteen hours a day, to answer that ceaseless question. If it occurs to any of them, anywhere, to say: 'Well, here is a cocky Englishmen, who is over here to make money, but is unable to resist the temptation to harangue us on our shortcomings' - just that minute you are damned - irrevocably damned. That one sniff of blood will suffice. The whole pack will be on your shoulder within twenty-four hours.......

Charles Dickens on Capital Punishment

An interesting piece written by Charles Dickens which was reprinted in the John O'London's Weekly issue of June 4, 1927.

The very advocates of the Punishment of Death who contend, in the teeth of all the facts and figures, that it does prevent crime, contend in the same breath against its abolition because it does not! "there are so many bad murders," say they, "and they follow in such quick succession, that the punishment must not be repealed." Why is not this a reason, among others, for repealing it? Does it not show that it is ineffective as an example; that it fails to prevent crime; and that it is wholly inefficient to stay that imitation or contagion, call it what you please, which brings one murder on the heels of another?

Charles Dickens

Friday, 8 October 2010

Amy Le Feuvre

Amy Le Feuvre was a polific writer of children's books. Many of her wonderful stories were produced in fine prize bindings for use as school gifts to be awarded to deserving students.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Arthur Watts (illustrator and artist)

One of the superb Arthur Watts illustrations featured in advertising campaigns used in John O'London's Weekly issues. This one is from June 4, 1927.

Kathleen Shackleton

Just two of the many Kathleen Shackleton illustrations drawn from life for the John O'London's Weekly in the early 1920s. Kathleen Shackleton was the sister of the famous Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A Wilton Williams Flapper

This superb illustration of a Flapper from the 1920s is by the wonderful Wilton Williams. This was used to advertise Comfort Soap, and comes from the July 19th, 1924 issue of John O'London's Weekly.

What I Hear. October 29, 1927.

These up to the minute literary news snippets appear in John O'London's Weekly.

Mr. Gilbert Frankau has returned from a holiday in France, where he has been working on a new story to be called "So Much Good."

In the Kingsway Hall on Friday, October 28th, Mr. G.B. Shaw and Mr. G.K. Chesterton are to debate the question, "Do We Agree?" Mr. Hilaire Belloc will be in the chair.

Mr. J.B. Priestley is at work on a long novel which will run to almost a quarter of a million words. Like Mr. John Galsworthy, he is a keen player of deck tennis. He has a charming country home at Church Handborough, near Oxford.

"Oliver Ainsworth," the author of  "The Assassins," is in private life Sir Henry Sharpe, C.S.I., C.I.E. His favourite holiday is shooting game by day and writing in the evening. Among other recreations he numbers "change of employment."

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Richard Hillary

'Where Do We Go From Here?' This is a short extract from an article written by Flight-Lieutenant Richard Hillary for the John O'London's Weekly in 1942.

It has been said that the artist, the scientist and the truly religious, are the strongest bulwarks that any country can have against Fascism and Hitler. My knowledge of scientists is limited, and of the truly religious still more so, but of them I can see that it must be true. It may perhaps seem presumptious that I should pretend to any knowledge of artists, but it is not of artists in the strict sense of the word that I wish to speak, so much as of those of us who would dearly love to be creative artists, but who are not; those of us who are novelists, art critics, columnists, and who write, not because we have something in us which must come out, something to give, but because we have the facility - it is the thing we do best, and it makes us a success, gives us power and a certain position; and if I may carry the word artist still further, I mean all those of us with a taste for music, writing and pictures, who can see a table and realize that it is not simply a plank on four legs, who can see that there are semi-tones, pastel shades in life, and that everything is not either black or white; those of us who might rather smugly call ourselves aware as opposed to factual. And it is we who, I suggest, are sitting rather uneasily in our position of a bulwark against Hitler.

Richard Hillary died less than 3 months after writing this.

Chapters From A Bookseller's Life: Part 3

If you wish to read Part 1 of Chapters From a Booksellers Life Click Here.

This was written by A.L. Humphreys the head of Hatchards the Piccadilly bookshop in 1924 for John O'London's Weekly.

The Cecil Rhodes Library.

It also occurred to me at a rather late stage to suggest to Mr. Rhodes that it would be well to supplement what he was doing by getting together from all sources the best biographical data regarding the personal histories of the Caesars. This was a scheme that he fell in with at once, and I collected together, from hundreds of quarters all over Europe, the best and most scholarly books which had been written in any language upon the Roman Emperors. Those also were translated and indexed, as were the others, and they made a fine series of volumes with portraits, illustrations, and reproductions from coins, etc.

Mr. Rhodes, at various times, both during personal interviews and in correspondence, revealed his likes and his dislikes. He objected for one thing to possessing a library of standard authors. What he really meant was that his idea of a library must be something individual, and that no man could be expected to admire everything by any one author. I once told him, when I was talking to him at 187, Piccadilly, that I had made a good collection of books upon Diamonds and Diamond Mining. He at once rejected my suggestion that he should purchase these, and pulling himself up he said, "I am not a diamond merchant." As diamonds had played a fairly important part in starting Mr. Rhodes, I thought his reply was not quite worthy of his greatness. The remarkable library formed by Cecil Rhodes, details of which I have given, is still at Groote Schurr - one of the many monuments to the force and individuality of the originator.

Ebooks v Books

I wonder if Ebooks will ever be treated with the same reverence as real books?

Expanding Words

A two-letter word has been expanded to a nine-letter word. The letters are represented here by digits. Can you discover what the words are? Write the nine-letter word in the comments box below.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Doris May Lessing

She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007 at the age of 87. Here she is on the cover of 'Books and Bookmen' in 1956.

The Railway Children

The first paragraph from 'The Railway Children' by E. Nesbit.

They were not railway children to begin with. I don't suppose they had ever thought about railways except as a means of getting to Maskelyne and Cook's, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, and Madame Tussaud's. They were just ordinary suburban children, and they lived with their Father and Mother in an ordinary red brick-fronted villa, with coloured glass in the front door, a tiled passage that was called a hall, a bath-room with hot and cold water, electric bells, french windows, and a good deal of white paint, and every modern convenience', as the house agents say.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

This is the first paragraph from 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' by Alan Sillitoe.

The rowdy gang of singers who sat at the scattered tables saw Arthur walk unsteadily to the head of the stairs, and though they must all have known that he was dead drunk, and seen the danger he would soon be in, no one attempted to talk to him and lead him back to his seat. With eleven pints of beer and seven small gins playing hide-and-seek inside his stomach, he fell from the top-most stair to the bottom.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Fleet Street Girl by F.E. Baily

Iris Paradine - beautiful, charming and intelligent followed her father into journalism working as a reporter on the Daily Wire. Because she was intelligent she made good; because she had integrity she won the chance to pull of a scoop; and because she wanted adventure, she herself became news. But the men she met would fall in love with her, and in this engaging story F.E. Baily tells with all his customary wit and charm how Iris solved the problem of career versus marriage. Published circa 1950 by The Modern Publishing Company.

As soon as 'The Book Woman' gets to 1000 twitter followers we will be giving this wonderful book away to one of those lucky followers.

1940s Dust Jacket Art

A beautiful example of dust jacket art from the late 1940s.
Joy and Josephine by Monica Dickens. Artist was Pollack.

Conserving Your Books

The wide range of books found in collections can include modern paperbacks, cloth-bound hardbacks, leather bindings or even vellum-covered books. Books come in all shapes and sizes and may be rare or ephemeral. Some are in everyday use, whilst others may seldom be looked at. They may have considerable personal or financial value to you as owner, collector or curator.

Books are made from a variety of materials, most of which are natural products. The paper, boards and thread of a book are all composed of cellulose, a plant material. The covers can be made from a wider variety, including skin products (leather, vellum or parchment), textiles or plastic. Some of these materials are of good, durable quality but others have inherent weaknesses and tend to degrade, especially if their storage or display conditions are poor or if they have been used a lot.

What can go wrong?

Damage is related to four main factors: what the book is made of, how and where it has been stored, the construction of the book, and the degree of use the book has been subject to.

Specialist book conservators know about the manufacture and construction of books of all periods and materials. As well as carrying out treatments on individual books, they can help you identify which items are at risk, and advise you on the best ways of protecting your collection and retaining its value for the future.

These are the kind of problems you can detect yourself:

Poor-quality paper may become brittle and yellow. This is usually due to impurities in the cellulose, but it can be made worse by poor storage conditions.

Dust collecting on the top edges of books may lead to discolouration and encourage mould growth.
Paper and other organic materials (such as leather) react to changes in the moisture content of surrounding air. The edges of the pages may cockle if the surrounding environment is too damp and conversely, books can also become stiff and brittle if the environment is too dry. A fluctuating environment will stress the structure of a book and cause damage, for example tears and splits at the joints where the book covers join the spine.

Damp and mould provide a favourable environment for insects which eat cellulose: certain insects can bore right through books.
Large books such as family bibles are often poorly made, and so heavy that their boards can split away from the book at the joints.
Where pages become loose, they are easily creased, torn and dog-eared.
Leather bindings can become sticky and will attract dirt if oils and leather dressings have been over-applied.
Leather can also become dry and crumbly. ‘Red rot’ (where the leather deteriorates to a fine red dust) results from the way the leather was tanned. Books affected by this condition can be boxed or wrapped in acid-free paper to prevent marking of surrounding volumes.

What you can do

Good handling and storage are the best ways to avoid damage. Books are complicated mechanical objects and the way in which they are opened and closed, and manipulated during use influences how long they last.


Always open a book carefully, without forcing, since the materials it is made from may have become weak over time. Some old books may not open much beyond 90˚. Placing books face down on a flat surface will break the binding.

The paper may be weak or damaged, so turn the pages carefully to avoid tearing. Be aware that dirt and oil from your skin can damage and stain paper. Gloves are sometimes recommended for handling bindings, particularly textile bindings or those with metal clasps, however, gloves can reduce your sensitivity to delicate papers so it is advisable to use clean, dry hands instead for turning pages.

Take care when removing and replacing books from shelves. Headbands are particularly prone to damage as they can be pulled off when removing a book.


A cool, dry and stable environment is ideal. Temperatures of 16-19˚C and a relative humidity of 45-60% are recommended. If it is difficult to achieve this within the home, try to achieve a stable environment with a relative humidity of less than 60%; above this, mould and insects can flourish. This normally means keeping books away from direct heat sources such as radiators, sources of moisture such as damp external walls, and avoiding storage in attics, garages or basements where temperature and humidity fluctuate, where pests may be a problem and where leaks and floods are relatively common.

Try to protect books from direct light, especially daylight which can be particularly damaging. Light damage is irreversible.

Store books neatly, upright on bookshelves and do not allow them to lean sideways and become distorted. If possible, books should not come into contact with unsealed wood which can release organic acid vapours. Line shelves with conservation board (acid-free) to avoid this problem.

Make sure that there is good air circulation, for example avoid pushing books to the back of a shelf. This will reduce the risk of condensation and mould developing.

Try to store books of a similar size next to each other so that the volumes are properly supported. Use book ends for support if necessary. Large books are best stored horizontally.

Avoid the temptation to pack the shelves tightly as this will make the books vulnerable to damage when you are removing and replacing them from the shelves.

'Books and Bookmen'

The 'Books and Bookmen' magazine was published by Hansom from the early 1950s and was aimed primarily at avid readers, and book collectors.They are full of rare book reviews, interviews with the authors, and features on the writer's of the day. Illustrated throughout with photographs.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Big Ali by Harry Carpenter

This short extract was taken from a 'Books and Bookman' issue published in 1972.

Teddy Brenner, a Manhattan cynic who puts fights together at Madison Square Gardens, comes close to
analysing the appeal of Muhammad Ali: "If Ali says that he is going to walk on the East River, you can bet your ass that over 100,000 people will be there to see if it's true."
In the beginning he was easy to assess, when he was plain Cassius Clay, before he got into the Black Muslim, socio-racial scene. In 1963, a year before he was world champion, we met in New York for a filmed interview. "Let's do it on top of the Empire State Building," I said, "so that The greatest can meet The Highest."
He rolled those big eyes in that beautiful black face and said: "Man, you're not as dumb as you look."
He dug those corny ideas, because he was a big, cute Kentucky kid who'd hit on the notion of boasting and predicting rounds ("if he wants to jive, he'll fall in five"). He sold himself to the public by making them livid with his bragging. He told me how, when he fought Archie Moore, a Whitey in the front row kept yelling: "Archie kill that nigger!" Clay laughed: "Man that Archie Moore is blacker than ME!"

Harry Carpenter

Keeping up with the Joneses by Karl Marx

A house may be large or small; as long as the neighbouring houses are likewise small, it satisfies all social requirements for a residence. But let there arise next to the little house a palace, and the little house shrinks into a hut. The little house now makes it clear that its inmate has no social position at all to maintain, or but a very insignificant one; and however high it may shoot up in the course of civilization, if the neighbouring palace rises in equal or even greater measure, the occupant of the relatively little house will always find himself more uncomfortable, more dissatisfied, more cramped within his four walls.

Karl Marx

Chapters From A Booksellers Life: Part 2

If you wish to read Part 1 of Chapters From a Booksellers Life Click Here.
This was written by A.L. Humphreys the head of Hatchards the Piccadilly bookshop in 1924 for John O'London's Weekly.

Cecil Rhodes and His Library.

After a few days Mr. Rhodes came again, as he had said he would like to hear how the suggestion had shaped itself in my mind. I did not bother him with tiresome details, nor did I ask him a lot of questions, but I discussed with him, the broad lines upon which the matter might proceed. I remember that upon this occasion he told me incidentally that the "Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius" was a specially favourite book of his, and I boldly said it was mine also. He spoke also on that occasion, and many times afterwards, of Van Rieback, the old Dutch governor whose statue he placed on the Quay at Cape Town, and a panel commemorative of him in his house.
The work got well in hand, and I had a large body of men, all first-class scholars - and most of them who were glad enough to co-operate in such a fine scheme. Each author was translated, revised, the MS. typewritten on quarto paper, and then fully indexed and bound in levant morocco of an enduring quality. Mr. Rhodes supplemented his original instructions from time to time, and when the work had only proceeded a little, he decided that although he preferred for his own reading to have everything in English, he thought for the sake of his visitors from England who came to stay with him at Groote Schurr, that he would add to his collection all the original authorities. I therefore obtained fine copies of the well-known sets of the texts of the classics issued by Didot, Lemaire, Panckoucke, Nisard, and others.

Part 3.

That Difficult Second Novel

James Jones second novel
'Some Came Running' is the
perfect example of the difficulty
an author can experience when trying
to follow up a major first novel success.
Even though 'Some Came Running' was
turned into a movie starring Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine,
compared with the blockbuster that was 'From Here To Enternity'
it was seen as a relative failure.

How to Write an Essay: Part 2

To Read Part 1: Click Here

The art of writing an essay or a thesis, or anything more elaborate, is fixed in the truth that writing is a means of communication between man and man. Therefore every good essay is written in collaboration. The collaborators are the writer and the reader. It is true that the reader is not present in flesh when the essay is written. But unless the essayist has dramatized his reader and has, so to speak, domiciled him in his mind from the moment he puts pen to paper, he will fail. Why does so and so bore you to death when he talks? He has, at least, the advantage, or the misery, of seeing you before him, but although he sees your body he does not see into your mind. He talks and talks, and nothing said. It is the tactile apprehension of the reader's mind that matters. A man ought to know when he is becoming vague or tiresome. The art of conversation is mainly the art of listening. When you have listened you may deliver your punch. It is the same in essay-writing: you must be sensitive to your reader's mood and patience. And you must get your message "over the footlights."

To be continiued.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Chapters From A Booksellers Life

Cecil Rhodes and His Library by A.L. Humphreys (Head of Hatchards the Piccadilly bookshop) written in 1924 for John O'London's Weekly.

I was sitting at my usual place at Hatchards one afternoon in 1893 when Mr. J.R. Maguire came in, accompanied by a rather unusual and remarkable looking man, who at first said but little and conveyed to me the instant impression that he was a man none too robust. I already knew Mr. Maguire, and he at once told me that he had brought with him Mr. Cecil Rhodes, whose idea in coming to see me was to discuss a scheme for a library in his private residence in South Africa, and that to begin with he proposed that I should obtain for him a collection of books representing all the authorities which Gibbon must have made use of in writing his "Decline and Fall." After Mr. Maguire had been talking for some time, detailing on behalf of Mr. Rhodes what he had in mind, Rhodes himself began to talk freely, and in a voice which seemed now and again to touch a high falsetto note. All the Rhodes brothers had the same peculiarity of voice, as I found out afterwards. In a few moments I found myself engaged in a very animated talk with Mr. Rhodes over the scheme which he had suggested. It struck me at once, as it would have struck anybody, as being a most original idea, and one of the greatest interest and value.
In the course of that afternoon's talk Mr. Rhodes made certain things very clear to me, and the first was his love for Gibbon's great book, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," and how it had become his companion every time he went to and from London and Cape Town. The second thing he emphasized was his determination to secure in English translations all the authorities used by Gibbon, very many of which had never been translated; and a third matter which remains very clear in my memory is his saying that he realized the magnitude of the undertaking, and he knew that I must get together a body of classical scholars to co-operate. He added that he specially wished that they should be paid for all they did on a liberal scale. He then took out his cheque-book, and although this was the first time I ever had seen him, he left me a large sum of money with which to make a start......

More Chapters From A Booksellers Life.

How to Write an Essay: Part 1

The writing of "essays" has become both a habit and a discipline in our schools, our colleges, our universities, and our self-culture societies; and the ability to write a good "essay" has been made a qualification for early advancement in almost every sphere of specialized work. What is an essay? It is an endeavour, a trial, an attempt. You can essay to do anything. In literature an essay, as defined in Webster's Dictionary, is "a literary composition, analytical or interpretative in nature, dealing with its subject from a more or less limited or personal standpoint, and permitting a considerable freedom of style and method."
This definition is as good as any I require, although I would implore "Webster" to substitute in future editions, the word "kind" for the word "nature." But the definition, good as it is, is hardly abreast of the truth. It would be better if a certain kind of essay - and this the largest in number - were known by the now obsolete term "thesis." A thesis differs from an essay. It is less personal and expansive. An essay is centrifugal in its action, a thesis is centripetal. The essay gives liberty, the thesis demands purpose. The essay may diverge, the thesis must concentrate. The writer of a thesis has to commit themselves to a proposition or, at least, to an orderly statement of facts or opinions concerning a definite matter. Nevertheless, the principles which govern success in producing an "essay" or a thesis are identical up to a certain point. Obviously clear thinking and good English must be found in both. It has happened that the word "essay" has virtually replaced the word "thesis" but the distinction remains. If I am asked how it is possible to write Essays such as were written by Goldsmith, Dr. Johnson, Charles Lamb, and Hazlitt I can impart to you the whole secret and will make you a present of it. All that is necessary is to be a Goldsmith, a Johnson, a Lamb, or a Hazlitt. But I would add that it is much more important, and also much more possible, to be yourself. For a good essay is the trial and expansion of one persons mind and outlook, of their sympathies and emotions. These must be interesting, and the writer's way of conveying them must be magnetic.

Part 2

What's The Bogey?

Rearrange these eighteen letters to form the smallest number of words possible. Each of the eighteen letters must be used, and, of course only once.


We offer a half-guinea book token for the first entry examined which does the round in the minimum number. Answers should be written in the Comments Box below. Good luck.

Monday, 27 September 2010


Nancy was a little boy,
She loved to dance and sing.
His brother Jake was a buxom lass,
Who ran off with the King.

Gary Walker

The Cowboy and the Lady

Old Movie Reviews No.2. The Cowboy and the Lady starring Gary Cooper. Review by Peter Galway in 1939.

The Cowboy and the Lady is a threadbare affair, with the stalest plot in California and nothing to redeem it except Mr. Cooper's unique skill in portraying shy, lanky creatures in the Middle or Far West. Even his charm is severley tested by a scene in which he surveys the house he is building for his wife, and chalks two circles on the floor marked Special Chair For Mary and Special Chair For Me: a fancy which might well incarnadine the cheeks of our own professional whimsy-mongers. Merle Oberon has the thankless part of a lady pretending to be a lady's maid, and there is a horrible old boy of the Nuts-in-May order called Uncle Hannibal, who says, "Dont mind me, I'm only the poor relation," and has a whole lot of senile fun dancing the heebie-jeebies at a night club: "When I think of the time I've wasted teaching political economy," he remarks; but what we think of is the time his unfortunate pupils wasted.

I Am The Law

Old Movie Reviews. This one is from 1939 by Peter Galway in The New Statesman. "I Am The Law" starring Edward G. Robinson.

The cosy code of Hollywood morality is again demonstrated by the latest films of Edward G. Robinson and Gary Cooper. Goodness and domesticity are now all the rage; you're simply not in it unless you posses a whimsical outlook, a cute white terrier, and an appreciation of the Big Simple Things of Life. Robinson who has so often delighted us with his suave villainy, is now a Law Professor with a passion for justice, a dislike of holidays, and a supposedly endearing habit of burning holes in his pockets with a lighted pipe. (As Worcestershire and Moscow well know, there is something about a pipe.) I Am The Law presents the unfamiliar spectacle of Robinson cleaning up a nest of tough folk in his home town, and makes quite an enjoyable specimen of the gangster movie. The plot, if a little too improbable towards the end, always remains ingenious, Wendy Barrie contributes an amusingly intelligent blond doll (school of Damon Runyon), and there is a lovely dog.

The Circus

A review written by the wonderful G.W. Stonier after visiting Bertram Mills' Circus, at Olympia in 1939. Taken from one of our copies of The New Statesman.

What makes the circus? The animals, the acrobats, the clowns? All three? If one had to be dropped, I suppose it would be the clowns; there is not much room in modern entertainment for the comic-pathetic. At Islington, as they totter about between acts, like passers-by after an explosion, as they blow trombones or dangle sausages or unroll incredible lengths of sleeve, they already have a superannuated look; at Olympia (where probably they are better paid), they retain a certain importance and virtuosity. Olympia boasts a woman clown, enough dwarfs to make a Snow White, clowns with electrified noses, clowns riding in palanquins. They are expensive to suit the show. And the best clown of all is at Olympia. It is some time before you are aware of him, a tramp lighting matches among the audience. Once he has fixed you, you do not forget him. The white bears bow, the Liberty ponies bounce round the ring in buxom waves, round and round changing positions: you look to see what has become of your tramp. There he is sitting in some stall or high gallery, striking matches and gazing with anxious attention at giggling lovers or a staid couple in evening dress who look past him in horror. He comes nearer: he is wearing a bowler hat, he has an Assyrian nose, huge white lips, and sad eyes which never flicker. Folding his coat tails he assumes the attitude of Le Penseur on the seat in front of you. From time to time he disappears, to return in another phase of his pilgrimage. I watch him carrying a plank which he tries to affix wherever he sees empty seats adjacent or on opposite sides of a gangway. Late in the evening, before disappearing altogether, he comes round with a broom to sweep up fag-ends; and in moments of inattention - he has a skivvy's dumbstruck admiration of people as he leans on the broom. This anonymous genius, whom I shall remember when I have forgotten everything else about this year's circus, is called, I believe, the American Hobo, ....

Nothing Changes

From a 1939 Daily Express.

Man is the lowest of animals, especially those of the so-called working class.
As for "little children," these are mostly vicious, thieving, destructive pests - you want to go to live in the Hammersmith or North Kessington area and you will soon find out for yourself.

The New Palestine Plan May 20, 1939

This is taken from The New Statesman, May 20, 1939.

The story of Palestine in the last twenty years is one of high hopes, of considerable achievment and of bitter disappointment. In accepting the Mandate we were undertaking a difficult but inspiring experiment - an experiment in nation making. The Palestinian Mandate, like other "A" class Mandates, required the Mandatory Power to fit its wards for self-government. But, unlike any other Mandate, it was complicated by the incorporation of another responsibility - the establishment in the country of  "a National Home for the Jewish people." Nor was that all . We started under the handicap of having during the war given pledges to Arabs and Jews, which, if they were not fundamentally incompatible, were likely to lead, as they have in fact led, to acute controversy and to open conflict. The Arabs objected from the outset both to the Mandate and to the Balfour Declaration. The Jews naturally acclaimed the new project, though there were different views amongst them as to how it was to be carried out and what it was ultimately to mean. The British Government, in the pride and confidence born of victory, entered cheerfully on its duties, and public opinion in general supported it.
The task was, as we saw it then , the making of a united Palestinian nation - the welding of two peoples into one, the harmonising of eastern and western civilisation, the creation of a State in which Arabs and Jews, whilst keeping their own culture, their own language and religion, would have common political and economic interests, ....

Over seventy years on. Depressed?

"John O'London's" Booklovers' Cruise

This piece is from the John O'London's issue of June 9, 1939. It would be fascinating to know if this cruise ever took place.

As at present arranged, the John O'London's Booklovers' Cruise to Gibralter, Casablanca, and Lisbon will take place in the Canadian Pacific liner Montcalm (16,400 tons) during the ten days beginning August 12th next.
It is evident from letters we have received that many of our readers wish to join the party, but are postponing their decision in view of the international situation. We therefore wish to make it clear that the ship will not sail if there is any danger of war, and that all booking fees will be returned in full.
In view of this assurance we hope that all intending passengers will reserve their places at once, as a great deal of organization is involved and time is short.
The cost of the cruise is from £13.2s. upwards, including conference fees. Full particulars can be obtained from The Wayfarers Travel Agency. Ltd., 33, Gordon Square, London, W.C.1, to whom all inquiries should be addressed.

The Ox by H.E. Bates

A short extract from a very rare short story written by H.E. Bates which was only ever published in John O'London's Weekly from June 9, 1939.

The Thurlows lived on a small hill. As though it were not high enough, the house was raised up, as if on invisible stilts, with a wooden flight of steps to the front door. Exposed and isolated, the wind striking at it from all quarters, it seemed to have no part with the surrounding landscape. Empty ploughed lands, in winter time, stretched away on all sides in wet steel curves.
At half-past seven every morning Mrs. Thurlow pushed her great rusty bicycle down the hill; at six every evening she pushed it back. Loaded always with grey bundles of washing, oil-cans, sacks, cabbages, bundles of old newspaper, boughs of wind-blown wood and bags of chicken food, the bicycle could never be ridden. It was a vehicle of necessity. Her relationship to it was that of a beast to a cart. Slopping along beside it, flat, heavy feet pounding painfully along under mud-stained skirts, her face and body ugly with lumpy angles of bone, she was like a beast of burden.
Coming out of the house, raised up even above the level of the small hill, she stepped into a country of wide horizons. This fact meant nothing to her. The world into which she moved was very small: from six to nine she cleaned for the two retired sisters, nine to twelve for the retired photographer, twelve-thirty to three for the poultry farm, four to six for the middle-aged bachelor. She did not think of going beyond the four lines which made up the square of her life. She thought of other people going beyond them, but this was different. Staring down at a succession of wet floors, working always for other people, against time, she had somehow got into the habit of not thinking about herself......

Digitise Your Mum

Music downloads, ebooks, online newspapers, movies on demand. Where will it all end I hear you tweeting? Musicians singing for their cyber supper, great writers left standing in online lines waiting for handouts from publishers that never publish. Will the digital age really give us greater knowledge and more choice? Or will we end with nutters and what sells in Tesco?
Time will tell.

Gary Walker

Friday, 24 September 2010

How To Write Detective Novels

This is a short extract from the chapter entitled 'Plot Construction' from a very rare book published in 1936 by Nigel Morland called 'How To Write Detective Novels'.

A detective novel cannot exist without a plot, carefully worked out and dovetailed together; a straight novel may be written with only the slightest of threads to hold it together. One of the first things to master, then, is the manafacture of plots.
There are two phases of this important procedure. First, the central idea has to be obtained, and, second, this idea has to be developed and expanded so that it will stand being written up to a length of anything from seventy thousand to one hundred thousand words.
Getting ideas for plots is mainly a matter of practice and thinking along productive lines. Inspiration is the resource of the amateur; it plays little part in the work of the professional. Perhaps everyone with an interest in writing could suggest at least one workable plot, but that is of little use when success depends on the ability to sustain a steady output of books as a source of income.

Leisure in a Democracy

A very short extract from the first page of "Leisure in a Democracy" by Viscount Samuel. This was The Sixth Annual Lecture of the National Book League given on November 23, 1948.

The nineteenth century had a poor opinion of the eighteenth; and no doubt, on the whole, its strictures were justified. Yet there was a certain atmosphere about the eighteenth century which we in these days may recall with some regret, even with a little envy. The England of the Vicar of Wakefield and Jane Austen; the London of Canaletto; Georgian architecture and gardens, furniture and pictures, and silver in the candle-light; the prose of Addison and Steele and Gibbon, the poetry of Gray and Cowper; families on Sundays, tranquil and neatly dressed, walking along the footpaths decently to Church. We look around us, and we feel there is something that we are missing.
That way of life could not last. There came the French Revolution, the Terror, the Marseillaise; the armies of Napoleon sweeping over Europe; at one moment poised menacingly close there at Boulogne. La carriere ouverte aux talents; also freedom of thought - opportunity open to ideas. There came science, invention, machines, and the Industrial Revolution: vast, shapeless factory towns, hastily built; millions of working-people, early in the morning, late in the evening, crowding in and out of the gates of the mills, mines, ironworks, shipyards. Afterwards came the Second Industrial Revolution - with electricity, chemical processes, the internal combustion engine, motorcars and airplanes. And now we hear the first rumblings of the Third Industrial Revolution, destined perhaps to be even more subversive than either of the others, tapping for man's service the primal energy of the universe.
We draw breath and look around us, and we are aware of the kind of civilisation that we have. We find in this island six times as many people living as there were in the middle of the eighteenth century. We find cramped homes, congested cities, rush-hour travel, hurry and strain; nature crowded out. As Emerson said;
Things are in the saddle
And ride mankind.

Three Women Diarists

This is a short extract from the introduction from "Three Women Diarists" by Margaret Willy published by the National Book League in 1964. The diarists featured are: Celia Fiennes, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Katherine Mansfield.

The keeping of diaries, as demonstrated by men from Pepys and Evelyn onwards, is by no means a mainly feminine province. Nevertheless there is something in the activity which strongly appeals to female instinct and inclination. The figure of the young girl writing up her private journal in her room late at night is a familiar one in fiction. And in fact, although we might hesitate to go as far as the writer who suggested 'that women make more refreshing, more effective diarists than men', the art of the English diary has been enriched by a good many notable contributions on the distaff side.

"Children of the Silence"

This the preface to "Children of the Silence" by F.W. Kenswil. An account of the Aboriginal Indians of the Upper Mazaruni River, British Guiana. Published in 1946.

In this far-away piece of British Guiana, a most backward and much neglected race of people has been living; living the aimless lives of the hopeless. As we know, we reap, even if we ignorantly sow. This is the inexorable law of life; and, in my observances among these people, I have proved how sadly true this is.
I have been living for twenty-seven years among these Aboriginal Indiansl, I have shared their many sorrows and their few joys, and as the years have rolled by, I have seen many strange, weird, and unbelievable things. I have seen the deep pathos of life, untold suffering, unutterable degredation; but I have also seen those, who in spite of their plight, are looking for the light, and, oh! so wistfully longing for a better chance in life.
Few people have any true knowledge of the life and customs of these Indians, and regarding their origin, no one has been able to advance anything but the most vague hypotheses.
In putting forth this little book, I have tried to show the good that's in the race, necessarily exposing the evil, and the hard fight for existence that has been the lot of these "Children of the Silence".

Thursday, 23 September 2010

New Statesman From 1939

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti was born in London on 5 December 1830, the fourth and youngest child of Gabriele Rossetti and his wife Frances. Both as a person and as a poet Christia was to be so greatly influenced by her family that in any study of her life and works it is necessary to go into the family background in some detail.
Like his elder son and his younger daughter, Gabriele Rossetti was a poet. He held the position of Curator of Antique Bronzes and Marbles in the Museum at Naples, but his clearly expressed liberal opinions made him objectionable to the government of King Ferdinand and he was obliged to flee the country. Arriving in England in 1824 .....Taken from Christina Rossetti by Georgina Battiscombe SOLD

James Clerk Maxwell

Weird Bookmarks We Find