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.