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July 2002
Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum is hosting an exhibition of The Art of Ladybird Books from 15 June - 25 August 2002.

Included are over sixty original illustrations from the golden age of children's literature featuring the work of three distinct artists: Martin Aitchison, Harry Wingfield (see April 2002 Newsletter) and John Berry. As well as examples of the People at Work series and Peter and Jane the exhibition will include a fascinating mock-up of Harry Wingfield's La Fontaine Fables and Martin Aitchison's marvellous illustrations to Gulliver's Travels and various other fairy tales.

William Topaz McGonagall
, the world's best-known bad poet, is to be honoured by his native city of Dundee. McGonagall, who gained fame for his mutilation of meter and reckless approach to rhyme, will be remembered in a public art project commissioned by Dundee's City of Discovery Campaign 100 years after his death.

The first verse of one of his most quoted works, 'The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay', will be etched into the pavement close to the bridge.

A Charity Book Sale at Turville Books, a unique Charity Bookshop will take place from Thursday August 1 until Sunday August 4 from 10.00am until 4.00pm daily. The event will be well signposted from exit 5 of the M40 and is half a mile from Turville, between Oxford and High Wycombe. An estimated 10-20,000 books will be on sale in a marquee and barn, prices from 50p and all proceeds to Elizabeth Finn Trust and Thames valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.
An auction of rare books and fine art from one of England's most famous stately homes, Longleat, has raised more than £27m to secure its long-term future. The items, just a fraction of the collection at the house near Warminster, Wiltshire, were auctioned over two days at Christie's in central London. Items sold included a 15th century Italian illuminated manuscript of the works of Virgil, which raised £1.2m. The first book ever printed in the English language - published by William Caxton at Bruges in 1473 before he introduced the printing press to England - Raoul Le Fever's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, sold for £600,000. The copy had been expected to fetch up to £400,000.
from Brenda J. Brown of Brown Studies

Between the Sheets

It was on my first day as a Junior Librarian when the realisation hit me. Some people did not think about books the way I did. Not only that, they most certainly did not view them with the respect, verging on reverence, that I had been taught by parents and teachers alike.

On showing my senior colleague a strange pinkish piece of card that had fallen out of a returned book, she resignedly replied 'Oh dear, that'll be Mr Harris. I've told him not to use his streaky bacon as a bookmark. I shall have to have words when he comes in on Thursday.' I was appalled and indignant as only a 17 year old fresh from school can be, and since that day I have been on the lookout for strange items either deliberately hidden, or accidentally left, in books.

We have several bulging folders full, ranging from photographs, postcards, bus and train tickets, to pressed flowers, timetables, letters and bookmarks. As librarians, collectors and sellers of books we have had endless fun and every new box is greeted with great anticipation in more ways than one.

Bookmarks made for the job come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Made from an endlessly fascinating variety of materials - silk, card, silver or leather and carrying messages, advertising material, love poems, biblical texts, sometimes beautifully embroidered or painted.

The loss of one of these is unlikely to result in frantic searching - but what about Mrs. Saunderson's Identity Card? Was she in hot water when she failed to lay her hands on it in 1947? The mind boggles at the dreadful events that could have followed.

The sad little note from Agnes to her friend Betty has me puzzled. I secretly hope she got the next train home. It doesn't sound worth the heartache, whatever it was! Can't help wondering what the exam was and why she went there in the first place…

With our modern day relaxed rules about hospital visiting, how about this 1952 Hospital Visitors Permit! Can you imagine anyone agreeing to carry one of these nowadays? I can just hear the matron's manly footsteps thundering down the corridors of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, stopping only to frisk and check passes of the meek, regimented visitors!

Woe betide anyone who turned up on the wrong day or at an unscheduled time. With the pass hidden in a book, maybe poor Mr Craig had no more visitors ever!


3rd April 1948

Dear Betty
I am fed up and far from home. This is one exam I don't think I'll sit.
What about you?

Yours faithfully
Agnes Angus

A special favourite of mine is this little poem, perhaps familiar to some but not to us.

The Fatal Guess

As Edwin sat, with Ethel Maud, and gazed into her eyes,
He had a sudden brainwave, and he planned a glad surprise
'Tomorrow is your birthday, dear' She shyly murmured' Yes,
You do not know how old I am'. He answered 'I will guess'

'Tomorrow I shall send a gift to you, my dearest dear,
A dainty floral offering, a rose for every year.
So count them very carefully, and see if I correctly gauge
The sum of all the summers in my little sweethearts' age'

He called upon the most expensive florist in the town,
And said, 'Send twenty roses with this card to Miss E Brown.
I want the best selected blooms, the finest that can be,
So choose them very carefully, and charge them up to me'

After he had gone the florist said, 'That man's a decent toff,
He's one of my best customers, so when I send them off
I'll shove another dozen in, for roses are now cheap'

When Edwin called around that night to see his little Miss,
He got a cold and haughty stare, and not the usual kiss
He quickly saw the reason why, and turned both green and blue,
For there, spread out before his eyes, were roses…thirty-two

He gave one wild despairing glance, then beat a swift retreat
He sought the florist and what he said, well I'd better not repeat!

Perhaps not perfect poetry, perhaps a music hall song of the day, but it strikes a sympathetic chord in one's heart. Why someone had carefully placed it in tiny envelope and placed it in a book - well, thereby hangs a tale, perhaps?

Only yesterday, a letter fell out of a book - to a lady who thought her great grandfather had been involved in the initial stages of 'making gas' in an old castle in Scotland.

The ensuing sniggering and ribald comments kept us amused for some time but that only goes to show what pleasure there is to be had in the most surprising aspects of this bookselling lark (or maybe it only demonstrates the puerility of our humour- not moved on much in forty years of working with books) You choose!

To celebrate 50th anniversary of the first publication of Ian Fleming's 'Casino Royale' (first paperback edition by Pan shown), Penguin are to re-issue all 15 novels in the 007 series.

Casino Royale is said to be the best of the genre. It has much the same sadism, sex and snobbery as the rest but if you can accept that these things reflect the time in which Fleming was writing it makes an entertaining read – and is arguably the one filmgoers won’t be familiar with since it only ever made it to the screen as a spoof Bond movie.

Next Month:
In August 2002 we will be presenting an article from Hessay Books entitled 'Georgette Heyer - Queen of Mystery and Suspense'.

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