Tuesday, July 07, 2015

WW1 Auxiliary Hospital: Englethwaite Hall Cumbria

This is Englethwaite Hall in Cumbria. It was built in 1879 by John Thomlinson, a plaster-of-paris 'magnate'. The house passed through several owners before it was taken over by the Red Cross and opened on July 15th, 1916 as a fully equipped Auxiliary Hospital with 50 beds. It remained open, under the charge of Miss Ida C Kentish, until April 30th, 1919 having treated 593 patients. Whilst I would never consider myself as having an interest in 'military history' I do have an interest in the personal stories of individuals in the First World War. Auxiliary Hospitals have featured in a number of novels about WW1 and, indeed, in ITV's Downton Abbey and it fascinating to finally get a glimpse inside one as it 'really' was from this photo album. I have to say that it looks more or less as I conjured these things in my mind's eye, although I wasn't really prepared for the chintz wallpaper and floral bedcovers! The house went to ruin and was finally pulled down in 1969 and is now the site of a caravan park. This album contains these, obviously professional, documentary photos at the front and the res of the album is filled with candid and personal shots of the soldiers/patients (not shown in this post) in groups or individually, sadly none of them identified.

The Best School Prize Bookplate Ever?

Prompted by the post last week about crossdressing boys in the theatre, an Australian friend sent me this scan of an bookplate in his collection. He is quite adamant that the prize should be reinstated although it seems most likely that Mr Cadell won't be around anymore to give lessons in the art of it. One wonders if there is somewhere a prize book for the Best Senior Female Impersonator as well!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Theras. The Story of an Athenian Boy

This delightful little book was published in the UK in 1925 by J. M. Dent in a little 12mo. series of books called the Kings Treasuries of Literature under the general editorship of Sir A. T. Quiller Couch. This one is about an Athenian boy who loses his father in a way (or does he) and is taken to Sparta and then travels around a bit. That's about the size of the narrative but it's really just an excuse to introduce a bit of classical history about how they lived in Athens and Sparta to a young reader. Although there is an illustration opposite the title page, not scanned here, that is initialed just "G" I can find no other indication of who the illustrator might have been. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Letters of Frederick Rolfe to Charles Kains-Jackson

My Dear KJ... The Letters of Frederick Rolfe to Charles Kains-Jackson 
Callum James Books, Portsmouth: 2015. 74pp. Octavo softcover.
ISBN: 9780957450134
£10 (publisher's special price) + £3 p&p (UK), £4 (EU), £5 (Rest of World)
The Blurb: "In 1889, the small town of Christchurch on the South Coast of England was a sleepy neighbour to the booming Victorian seaside resort of Bournemouth. It was here that, somewhat wearied from two failed attempts to complete his vocational training for the Catholic priesthood, a writer and artist of no great achievement called Frederick Rolfe, now calling himself Baron Corvo, came to live for a few years. 

Rolfe went on to become one of the most idiosyncratic novelists of nineteenth and twentieth century, attracting a loyal following of readers and collectors who value his eccentricity of language and the unique vision of his fiction. It was during his time in Christchurch that Rolfe wrote the letters in this current volume to a London solicitor called Charles Kains-Jackson, who was close to the whole of the 1890s 'set' as an editor and contributor to magazines. 

These letters are one side of a correspondence unusual at this time because they are between two gay men, comfortable with their own and each other's sexuality. They range across art, poetry, religion, current affairs and a good dose of gossip. Rolfe is witty, outrageous, camp and insightful by turns."
I quite often begin posts like this by saying that I am "delighted to announce", in this instance, given it is nearly six year since I started working on editing this series of letters, "relieved to announce" would also be appropriate. The book contains 17 letters from Rolfe to Kains-Jackson written during Rolfe's stay in Christchurch. There is an introduction which sets the letters in context and the letters are annotated. In an appendix I have added seven previously unpublished poems by Kains-Jackson from his commonplace books including his 'obituary poems' for such figures are Lionel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Ernest Dowson.

You can buy your copy of the book direct from me by making a payment through Paypal to callum at callumjamesbooks dot com for the correct amount (see above for postage). You may prefer to buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Amazon.com and the book should be available on other regional and local Amazon sites. You could also support your local independent bookshop by going in and quoting the ISBN number and asking them to order you a copy.

If paying via paypal, please make sure that the address on your account is the one to which you would like the book delivered.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Crossdressing Boys

This is a scrapbook from the 1920s of press clippings made by The Art Theatre Company about their productions at that period. There are several pages devoted to their production of a new play by George Moore called "The Making of an Immortal", a play about Shakespeare, so far so straightforward. My eye was drawn to the image at the bottom of the page though in which we see three boys dressed as women, to play the women's parts in the play, as in Elizabethan theatre. It can't surely be the last time that boys played the women's parts on the West End stage... but it might be close!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

British Neo-Romantic Art in South Wales

Having had the immense privilege to see France and Nicolas McDowall's art collection 'in situ' as it were, over the years, I am thrilled to bits to hear that a large selection of their assiduous, forty-year in the making, collection of British Neo-Romantic art is to be exhibited. It was, in fact, only after encountering and spending time with this collection and the careful and quiet thoughts of Frances and Nicolas that I even knew there was something called Neo-Romantic art!

If you are anywhere close to South Wales in the next couple of months it will surely be a must see exhibition. There is to be a catalogue too, 74pp, heavily illustrated and with words by the lovely Dr Peter Wakelin and very reasonably priced from the Monnow Arts Centre.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Little Juggler by Barbara Cooney

This is The Little Juggler (of Our Lady). It's a story many of you will know I'm sure. It is based on a 13th century French manuscript that tells the tale of orphan and street juggler Barnaby who becomes a monk. Discovering that he has nothing to give the Virgin Mary as a gift during the spring festival he juggles for her instead (you may by now be realising this is basically the same story as The Little Drummer Boy) which the monks think is outrageous and he gets into a whole heap of trouble and needless to say the Blessed Virgin herself comes to his aid and the moral of the story is happily asserted that even the smallest offering made sincerely is worthwhile. 

The story was popularised in the 1890s by Anatole France and this version is often described as an 'adaptation' of his story. In fact, Barbara Cooney who provides both text and illustrations made her own adaptation of the story direct from the medieval source. It's a delightful book and the illustrations are in both colour and black and white but the colour ones, some of which are reproduced here have such an incredible vibrancy in just blue, red and green that I just had to share them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Vivian Forbes

I wrote a little bit about Vivian Forbes on this blog a couple of years ago explaining how he was a devoted to his fellow artist Glynn Philpot but probably as a result, rather overshadowed by him. He isn't particularly well served on the internet either for images of his artwork. So I have gathered a few here. Some of these come from auction websites and others are my own scans of auction catalogues. His prices are very reasonable at auction still with a number of these selling for less than £500 in the late 1990s

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