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Our Darlings

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Our Darlings "The Best Monthly Magazine For Young Folks"

We recently purchased a collection of annuals from auction. In among them were a few copies of “Our Darlings”. These annuals really stood out to me as they are attractive books with pictorial front covers and illustrated by well known artists of the time (the editions we purchased were from the early 1900's).

Above: Example of front cover, and Leigh Kidman illustration

Arists included Ernest Aris, Louis Wain, E.S. Hardy, Harry B. Neilson, Leigh Kidman, Jaques Browne, Chris Temple, although most illustrations are uncredited (no signature present).

(Published 28th Feb 2015) Read full article

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

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This week, while packing up to move house – I've been going through my bookcase to see which books to give away (none so far) and I came across my facsimile copy of 'Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens' by J.M. Barrie and illustrated by Arthur Rackham.

Originally published in 1906, Barrie utilises many chapters of 'The Little White Bird' (published in 1902), with only a few changes in text. 'The Little White Bird' was seen as a novel for adults, where Peter Pan is introduced, but 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' was produced purely as a children's book, with stunning illustrations to match.

(Published 27th Feb 2015) Read full article

The Observer's Book of Vintage Cars and Pre-War Classics (92) by Mark White

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Issued in 1982, it was printed with Laminate boards, with the image of 4.5 Litre Bentley, Vanden Plas to the front cover. There was only one issue of this particular observer, making it one of the harder to find books.

It contains A foreword by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, and has 11 colour and 45 black and white photographs, 184 printed pages. The format of the book is an A-Z guide. . This is the Partner book to The observer's book of Classic Cars, which deals with the post war classics. The last book to be listed on the rear cover is No. 82 Gardens

(Published 27th Feb 2015) Read full article

Worrals Flies Again by W.E. Johns

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Firstly let me introduce you to Flight Officer Joan Worralson, known to her friends as 'Worrals'. She is a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (W.A.A.F.) the female section of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) established in real life in 1939. From the earlier book Worrals of the W.A.A.F. we learn that Worrals's job is supposed to be ferrying aeroplanes from one airfield to another, mainly for maintenance reasons, and she was not in any circumstances to engage in combat.

(Published 18th Dec 2014) Read full article

Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne

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Many generations have come to know and love the self-confessed ‘bear of little brain’ – Winnie-The-Pooh. What though, do we know of his history?

Winnie-The-Pooh’s history starts way back during the first world war, when during a stop-off in Canada, on his way to Europe, a lieutenant called Harry Colebourn bought a small black female bear cub for 20 dollars from a hunter. He named her ‘Winnipeg’ after his home town of Winnipeg and she was called ‘Winnie’ for short. Winnie became the mascot for the brigade. When posted to France, Lt. Colebourn took Winnie to London Zoo, where she stayed on a long loan, until she was formally presented to the zoo in the December of 1919.

(Published 18th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

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From the start

"The Mole had been working very hard all morning..."

to the finish

"but it never failed to have its full effect."

this is a story that has captivated us all, boy or girl, young or old. The characters are instantly recognised by all, and who would be able to resist the chance to visit the river bank and meet up with them.

Rene Cloke (left) and Babette Cole (below right) are among those who have provided illustrations for this popular tale.

(Published 18th Dec 2014) Read full article

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

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'Little boy kneels at the foot of the bed,Droops on the little hands little gold head,Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!Christopher Robin is saying his prayers...'

Those classic lines of children's poetry are to be found on any nursery bookshelf in the book'When We Were Very Young'. Yet, how did the author of detective novels become world famous for a quartet of children's verse and prose revolving around a child and his teddy?

Alan Alexander Milne was born in 1882 in London. At a young age he developed an insatiable appetite for reading. In 1903, Milne had his first book published entitled 'Lovers in London'. Later, Milne began to produce a weekly feature for the magazine 'Punch'. After some time, the author decided to stretch his literary muscles by writing plays, some of which were quite successful. Then, in 1922 Milne wrote a detective story entitled 'The Red House Mystery'. This was an instant success and prompted Curtis Brown to contract Milne to write three more novels. Milne was finally realising his dream of becoming a serious dramatist and adult novelist! However, things were about to change...

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

West Highland White Terriers An Owner's Companion by Roger Wright

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This is the book I should have bought for Katie (my middle daughter) as part of her 18th Birthday present. Instead we bought her the dog! Well actually on the day of her birthday she got his collar tag – Barney arrived a couple of weeks later when he was old enough to leave his mother. We hadn't set out to get a Westie but friends had a litter and there was one male left. Katie didn't so much choose Barney as he chose her by coming to her and sitting on her foot! He had been the runt of the litter and was initially hand fed but he's now strong and healthy and the apple of his mistress's eye.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Waterways of the World by W.J. Bassett-Lowke, illustrated by Laurence Dunn

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Waterways of the World is an interesting factual book in the Puffin Picture Book series. These small, colourful, softcover books are always informative, being written largely for children in a relatively simple and concise manner.

The book begins with the Great Rivers, describing the Ganges of India, the Yangtse of China, the Nile, the Thames, The Mississippi and the Rhine. Each page has a description of the rise and flow of the river along with illustrations and facts.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

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The Water Babies, subtitled by its author as A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, on closer examination has been seen as more than just a fairy tale by many. It can also be seen as a story rich in moral lessons and religious parallels.

Written for his son Grenville, Charles Kingsley's popular fable was first serialised in MacMillan's Magazine on a monthly basis, from August 1862 through to March 1863.

It was first published in book form in 1863 with two full page illustrations by J. Noel Paton.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Versatiles By Alfred E. Twomey & Arthur F. McClure

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I have always been a film Fan, so combined with a passion for books it comes as no surprise that I have bookshelves groaning under the weight of film-related books.

But I have a special love for what I call 'buffet books', those titles you can dip in and out of for a few moments, it might entail looking up a particular film, or specific actors or directors whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.

With this in mind I bring to your attention The Versatiles, a book containing brief biographies of a selection of the most prolific supporting actors in film, those whose faces you are familiar with, but about whom you know little else.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Vege-Men's Revenge by Bertha Upton

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What a strange rhyming book this is! 

Each page is delightfully illustrated by Bertha Upton's daughter, Florence K. Upton, best-known for the series of Golliwoggbooks. In 1897, having had two Golliwogg books published, the Uptons decided to try something different with The Vege-Men's Revenge.

The story is about a little girl named Poppy who is sent by her mother to collect vegetables in her basket. The book is in three parts and in the first part Poppy meets Herr Carrot and Don Tomato who entice her with 'fair words' to come and see how they grow underground.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

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Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith was one of the most popular and widely read novels during the Victorian age, and it has maintained its status as a classic to this day.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, a friend of Goldsmith, provides an account of the circumstances which led to the publication of the novel at a time when the author was facing the prospect of a debtors' prison. Johnson had received a message from the author stating that he was in great distress and begging that he would come to his aid:-

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Tasseltip Tales - Ladybird Series 474

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This was the fifth series to be produced by Ladybird books - series 474. Six titles were published between 1947 and 1953, with the first three being published together in May 1947 - something that can cause confusion to collectors of first editions.

The original stories were written by Dorothy Richards and illustrated by Ernest A. Aris. Ernest Aris was a prolific illustrator not only of books, but also cigarette cards, seaside postcards and jigsaws. He had also designed a series of lead figures called the Cococubs which had been given away by Cadbury's Cocoa. Amongst the many woodland figures that he had drawn, there were several rabbits who bear a resemblance to Tasseltip.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Tannhauser: A Dramatic Poem Richard Wagner, illustrated by W. Pogany

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Whilst retrieving an elusive volume from our Special Book Room, I stumbled across this book in one of the cabinets. Beneath the green, tooled design covers I suspected that there would be something special lurking inside - and this is certainly true.

Left: The decorative title page.

Although aficionados of opera would doubtless recognise the title, as an ex-student of Classics and ancient mythology I was of course hooked by the opening lines:-“Dead are the Gods of Greece this many a day... yet among the grey crags of the Horselberg, there dwells a creature fair and fearful, whom men deem to be the goddess of unholy love.”This creature 'with the witchery of womanhood and mighty with the spell of the divine' is of course Venus, and this opening sets the tone for the poem's examination of the conflict between sacred and profane love.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Tale of Tales by Tony Mitton

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An eye catching cover which makes a book stand out amongst a shelf of assorted books must be a good thing and I was certainly drawn to this book by its cover and, I'm pleased to say, I wasn't disappointed with the contents either. The Tale of Tales was written by Tony Mitton and illustrated in black and white by Peter Bailey. The book contains a collection of small stories within the main story, a concept I enjoyed.

The main story starts deep in the jungle with monkey overhearing some parrots talking about going to hear the Tale of Tales in Volcano Valley that afternoon. The parrots decided not to spread the word as too many ground animals might turn up and they would be noisy and take up too much room. Monkey was excited and curious and decided he must try to hear the Tale of Tales so he set off at speed along the path to Volcano Valley but as he rounded the first bend he ran straight into an elephant. An excited Monkey told Elephant about the conversation he'd overheard and, as he liked a good story, Elephant decided to go too. Monkey climbed up to sit on Elephant's neck and off they went. To pass the time en route Monkey said he would tell Elephant one of his favourite stories.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

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"Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were - Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, And Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree."

The above is the introduction to one of the best-loved children's stories of all time -The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. On September 4th, 1893, Miss Potter sat down to write a letter to Noel Moore, the five-year-old son of her ex-governess, all about a naughty rabbit called Peter. Noel was ill in bed and so Miss Potter wrote to him: "My dear Noel, I don't know what to write to you, so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits..." The letter was wonderfully illustrated with tiny and exquisite pictures. 

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Tailor of Gloucester By Beatrix Potter

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The second of the twenty-three Peter Rabbit tales, The Tailor of Gloucester, was Beatrix Potter’s personal favourite. In a presentation copy of Warne’s edition Beatrix wrote ‘This is my own favourite amongst my little books’. Along with many of the other Tales, The Tailor originally started life as a picture letter to a child. The child in question was Winifreda Moore (often called Freda or Frida), second daughter of Annie Moore, Beatrix’s former companion and dear friend.

It was while visiting a cousin who lived in Stroud in Gloucestershire that Beatrix first heard the strange story of the Tailor of Gloucester. One evening the tailor, who was very poor, left in his shop a waistcoat, which he was making for the Mayor of Gloucester who was to be married on Christmas day. He had cut it out but not made it up. He fell ill and didn’t go back to the shop for three days and nights – what would become of the poor tailor if the waistcoat was not ready for the Mayor’s marriage?

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

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'BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN'

So starts the biggest adventure that John, Susan, Titty and Roger, better known as The Swallows, had ever experienced! Their exploits are told in the book Swallows and Amazons , a superb story of boats and lakes, exploration and discovery, wholly capturing the magic and innocence of childhood.

The tale starts in the native settlement of Holly Howe, situated near the bustling lakeside town of Rio, where the family are staying on holiday. As the story explains, 'if there had been no island, no sailing boat, and if the lake had not been so large, the children, no doubt, would have been happy enough to paddle about with oars in the bay by the boathouse. But with a lake as big as a small sea, a fourteen-foot dinghy with a brown sail waiting in the boathouse, and the little wooded island waiting for explorers, nothing but a sailing voyage of discovery seemed worth thinking about'!

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article

The Strand Magazine

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The first issue of the Strand Magazine appeared in January 1891 and the last in March 1950. It was created by George Newnes at a time when British magazines were losing out to the interesting and lively magazines like 'Harpers' and 'Scribners'. Newnes had seen success with the launch of 'Tit-Bits' a few years earlier. His idea was for a magazine that had a 'picture on every page', a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, and a price that undercut the opposition. However each issue was to be complete in itself, with none of the cliff-hanger serials, although this changed later.

(Published 17th Dec 2014) Read full article