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Newsletter - February 2006

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The death has been announced of the celebrated children's writer, Janet Marjorie Mark, twice winner of Britain's foremost children's literary award, the Carnegie Medal, and known for her soft spot for cats.

She died of meningitis-related septicaemia on January 16th this year age 62. For her obituary by David Fickling, Philip Pullman and Jon Appleton see The Guardian Tuesday January 24, 2006



Cover of The Diamond of Drury LaneOttaker's Children's Book Prize - Julia Golding

This year's winner of the Ottaker's Children's Book Prize is Julia Golding for The Diamond of Drury Lane published by Egmont Books Ltd.

Set in 1790's Covent Garden this book whisks you back to a bygone era. Cat Royal is an orphan who lives at the back of the theatre in Drury Lane and the narrator's colourful slang and confident style of I'll-tell-you-how-it-really-is, makes the story sparkle off the page.

Others in the shortlist of ten were:


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne Jack Slater, Monster Investigator by John Dougherty
The Lottery by Beth Goobie
The Quantum Prophecy by Michael Carroll
Ralph the Magic Rabbit by Adam Frost

North Child by Edith Pattou
Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach
Gregor and the Rats of Underland by Suzanne Collins
Spy Mice: The Black Paw by Heather Vogel Frederick


 David Irving in trial in Vienna

David Irving, Holocaust denier and discredited right-wing historian faces trial in Vienna this month commencing on 20th February.

Irving was arrested last year in Austria for denying the Holocaust. Austria, in common with Germany and Poland, has a constitutional law dating back to 1945 which not only bans National Socialist or neo-Nazi organisations but makes incitement to neo-Nazi activity and the glorification or praise of National Socialist ideology illegal. It also prohibits public denial, belittlement, approval, or justification of National Socialist crimes, including the Holocaust.

Having once upon a time enjoyed a certain cachet as a popular historian combined with a flair for self-promotion, Irving became a celebrated Holocaust denier. Despite his failed law suit against Professor Deborah Lispstadt in 2001 and the gradual shunning of his work by mainstream publishing houses, David Irving still makes the news with his revisionist views.

German author and academic, Malte Herwig travelled to Vienna for The Observer to find out "if arrogance is at the heart of Irving's desire for outrage - or something more sinister?" (for full interview)

Irving bibliography (from Wikipedia)

The Destruction of Dresden (1963)
The Mare's Nest (1964)
The Virus House (1967)
The Destruction of Convoy PQ17 (1967 - revised after libel trial 1970)
Accident -- The Death of General Sikorski (1967)
Breach of Security (1968)
The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe (1973)
Hitler's War (1977)
The Trail of the Fox (1977)
The War Path (1978)
War Between the Generals (1981)
Uprising! (1981)
The Secret Diaries of Hitlers Doctor (1983)
The German Atomic Bomb: The History of Nuclear Research in Nazi Germany (1983)
Churchill's War (1987)
Goering (1989)
Goebbels - Mastermind of the "Third Reich" (1996)
Churchill's War Volume II: Triumph in Adversity (1997)

David Irving is unique among modern Holocaust deniers for having first established a reputation as a popular, if controversial, chronicler of World War II. This reputation, combined with his flair for self-promotion and involvement in high-profile lawsuits, made him one of the best-known Holocaust deniers in the world. He suffered a major blow in April 2000, however, when he lost an internationally publicized legal battle with Professor Deborah Lipstadt, whom he had accused of libel, before a London court. (In July 2001, his request for a new trial was turned down by an appeals court.) Labeled a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite by Justice Charles Gray, and increasingly shunned by mainstream publishing houses, it is unlikely that Irving will ever regain the mainstream scholarly cachet he once enjoyed. Nonetheless, he continues to tour and raise money, and he remains one of the world's most effective purveyors of Holocaust denial.


Madame Setterfield otherwise known as Diane Setterfield, by
Sally Mackenzie of Macbuiks

As a book lover I have often felt grateful for the writers who have given me so much pleasure, so much information and whose stories have helped me through bad patches in my life. Over the years my love of books in conjunction with my desire to recycle just about everything has even led me to try my hand at bookbinding and finally, after inheriting a collection of books, to become a bookseller. While I have been interested enough to read a few autobiographies and biographies concerning my favourite authors, to try to understand how they can produce a story from 'nothing', I have not spent much time considering the process of how the manuscript becomes the book. Why do some books come out, if that is the right expression, embellished with a enticing book jacket, designed by famous artists and other books are straight away brought out in paperback? What is the effect on the authors of getting their first books accepted? Recently I have had the opportunity to acquire a little insight into the process because of Madame Diane Setterfield, French teacher and novelist.

For the last two years I have been attending a small group for French lessons in Diane's own home. At first the group of us, seven in total, were instructed in a basement lined with books until, when the room was needed for another purpose, we were relocated in her sitting room never to return to the book-lined room. This was a pity because I found it soothing to search the titles when my mind was unable to recall the correct French word. We knew that Diane had given up her academic career as a French lecturer in order to write a novel, but none the less she had to do some teaching to pay the bills. Besides teaching us she gave classes for people who had decided to live in France.

What makes a person think that they are capable of writing a book? When I put this question to Diane she told me that even before she was old enough to read adult books she liked the idea of writing a story. She loved being read to, listening to Jackanory and when she was able to read she became an avid reader. This love of books continued and that is why she chose to teach French language and literature as a career. After several years teaching she realised that if she did not follow her heart's desire and at least try writing, she would always regret it. In order to give her the time she needed to write her novel she took part-time work teaching French in the evenings and devoted her mornings to writing. She joined a writers' group locally and attended two writers' courses, each of a week's duration where she gained practical advice such as how to choose an agent. She had to become single minded in order to finish her novel.

In the Autumn term we learnt that the novel was finished and been sent to some agents.

In November I had a knee replacement operation and had to miss a couple of classes. Not only was I paid a social visit by 'teacher' bearing shortbread, but on the third week the class came to my house!

Diane is valued by us as a teacher because she has made the classes interesting and her preparation cannot be faulted. On this occasion she apologised that she had not photocopied all the work she hoped to and that her mind might appear not to be with the class this evening. What an understatement! The reason for her preoccupation was, she said, that more than one publishing house was interested in her novel and there was likely be an auction for the rights to publish. The following week her husband rang to tell me that the class would not be able to take place (the first time this had happened) as Diane had just returned from London and was too tired cope with a class. No wonder - there had had been a four day auction between the publishing houses with Orion paying a reported 750,000+ for Diane's novel 'The Thirteenth Tale'. The book tells the story of a reclusive novelist and its mysterious, gothic style is even being compared to classic novels such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca. There followed a celebratory party before Christmas to which our French group were invited along with friends and neighbours and members of the writers group.

Diane has now come down to earth. The speed with which the book was accepted took some adjusting to. Book writing is a slow process in comparison. It took five years to complete the book and longer to decide to make the attempt. In October last year Diane was thinking that she would have to start advertising her next class for people who wished to relocate to France and undertake all the preparation that was required. Yet by November she was being interviewed by the press and wooed by publishers. She continues to teach us until next September when she will have go on the road to promote her book, but does not have to think about setting up other groups. The interviews will go on, and of course the writing. I have not read 'The Thirteenth Tale' but it is on my shopping list for next September.


Hilary SpurlingWhitbread Book of the Year 2005

Biographer Hilary Spurling has won the prestigious 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year 25,000 award for the second part of her masterful biography of Matisse, Matisse the Master, a work which took her 15 years to complete. The announcement was made Tuesday 24th January at an awards ceremony held at The Brewery in Central London.

In one of the most open contests since the Book of the Year award was introduced in 1985, Matisse the Master beat odds-on favourite The Accidental by Ali Smith, first-time novelist Tash Aw for The Harmony Silk Factory, poet Christopher Logue for Cold Calls and children's book The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, for the overall prize.

Following the judging, Michael Morpurgo, MBE, chair of the final judges, said: "We all agreed that when you get to the end of this book you are sorry it has finished; an extraordinary achievement for a book of this length."  


Epsom Book Fair

Epsom Book Fair - Annual Charity Book Fair.
Friday 17th (10am to 8pm) and Saturday 18th February (9am to 3pm).
Epsom Methodist Church, Ashley Road, Epsom, Surrey.

Huge charity sale in aid of Epsom Methodist Church Development Appeal and NCH (over 30,000 books last year). Dealers' preview (entrance 10) on Thursday 16th February - please telephone 01372 271438 for details and time.


Stella Books logoIbooknet member in print

Ibooknet member Chris Tomaszewski of Stella & Rose's Books has appeared in print!

Chris was invited to contribute to the Good Small Business Guide published by A & C Black. Packed with essential information, the guide is aimed at anyone thinking about starting a business as well as those in business already. Chris's comments are to be found in the Viewpoint section of the guide along with comments from nine other owners of successful small businesses.


Next Month: The feature for March 2006 will be by Magpie Books