Friday 20 December 2019

A T. E. Lawrence Limited Edition (125 Copies Only): Featuring A Previously Uncollected Letter


Three letters, all written on the same day...

strictly limited edition, featuring a previously uncollected letter by Lawrence of Arabia

"I do not write... I sweat and sweat, and it's a botch"
— T.E. Lawrence, from the uncollected letter in this edition

30th OCTOBER, 1931

By T. E. Lawrence

Three letters by T.E. Lawrence, all written on the same day: 30th October, 1931. Including a letter published for the first time with the permission of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust.

With an original, hand-printed linocut frontispiece

A strictly limited, never-to-be-reprinted edition of 125 hand-numbered copies for sale

Our previous Lawrence-related limited edition, The Kaer of Ibu Wardani (see details here), was described by the T. E. Lawrence Society as "a very beautiful publication", and sold out quickly. The Society has also recently reviewed this publication in their Newsletter:
"I commend this finely produced little book to all our members, as a valuable piece of ephemera for your Lawrence collection." 

Nobody knows exactly how many letters T. E. Lawrence wrote in his lifetime. The total number, from childhood missives to his mother, right up to scribbled notes to friends in his final weeks, is undoubtedly comfortably into four figures.

We now know that he wrote three letters dated 30th October, 1931. Two of them, to his Mother and to the typographer Bruce Rogers, have been previously published (albeit in expensive, now hard-to-find books); the other, a fascinating and revealing letter to a fellow member of the RAF, has been uncollected until now. All three are presented here, giving a snapshot into one particular Friday in the 43-year-old Lawrence’s life, including — in the uncollected letter — a story involving Thomas Hardy and Siegfried Sassoon, and an unexpected connection to Spike Milligan and John Lennon...

Each copy of the edition features an original, individually hand-printed linocut by Sharon Newell, inspired by Lawrence's adventures in his beloved speedboat, the Biscuit.

A5 format, printed on uncoated 160gsm paper, 16pp plus a cover (in RAF blue) printed on heavy Rives Shetland paper.

The interior is set in Centaur, the font created by Bruce Rogers.

Featuring, as well as the full text of the three letters, a detailed Afterword by Adam Newell, giving the background to the letters and their recipients, with supporting illustrations.

More photos below:

The Fontispiece for each copy is individually hand-printed, so please note that ink coverage etc may vary!

The original linocut from which this edition's Frontispiece was printed.

Once again I have Sharon Newell and Martin Stiff to thank, for their hard work on making this limited edition a reality. Thanks also the The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust, for their kind cooperation.

Saturday 22 June 2019

Three ultra-rare Westerns: but does anyone care?

The three books featured below are all British editions of American Western novels. They all have cracking covers, and they are all, as far as I can ascertain, *fantastically* rare.

I can't find any other copies of any of them for sale anywhere in the world.

I don't just mean copies that still have dust jackets, but any copies, at all. In these internet days, that's still a rare happenstance. A sort of secondhand book googlewhack. And here are three at once. But will anyone care? I guess we'll find out, as I've just put them on eBay...

The listing is HERE. And no, I don't expect to get the full asking price, or anywhere near it, probably. But you can make me an offer...

Friday 14 June 2019

Who Should Play Jackson Lamb? (Slight Return)


Breaking news HERE

One of the more popular posts on this blog in recent times is this one, which asks 'Who Should Play Jackson Lamb?' in the inevitable TV version of Mick Herron's sublime spy thriller series. To celebrate the release of the sixth instalment of the Jackson Lamb/Slough house saga, Mr Herron is doing a few signings, so Sam the Black Hand Wine Man and I motored over to Forum Books in Corbridge — which, by the way, is an object lesson in how to run an independent bookshop* — to meet the man himself.

If you're not familiar with Jackson Lamb and his crew of Slow Horses, the previous blog entry will bring you up to speed. Mr Herron in conversation was fascinating: he talked at length about his writing process ("anyone watching would just think I was a professional-level solitaire player"), his relationship with his characters ("I could never write a female character I didn't like, though that doesn't go for my male characters"), and the yes-it-is-going-to-happen-probably TV series. While conceding that he's been saying for many years that the TV series is looking "probable" it apparently is looking a lot more probable of late. Indeed, he spent several days in the 'Writer's Room' breaking down the story with the guys tasked with bringing the first book to the screen. "We had a different thing for lunch every day! It was fantastic!" he marvelled.

While he understands the interest in the TV series, and welcomes the attention and sales it could bring, Herron does find it slightly exasperating that a book's success is often gauged by whether it is turned into something else: "You wouldn't say to a painter, 'Oooh, I love that painting. Is it going to be turned into a sculpture?'"

A fair point, but it doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to Jackson Lamb onscreen! Mick remained tight-lipped about other details, including casting, though it sounds as if they have simply not reached that stage yet.

One other thing: Herron was hilariously keen to insist, for legal reasons, that the character of Peter Judd was *not* based on any particular politician, when it is very, very clear that he's actually... well, read the books for yourself, and if you have read them, you'll know! (Hint: I'm currently hoping against hope that he's not going be our next Prime Minister...)

Anyway, we have a new Jackson Lamb novel, which is the main thing! I've not read my copy yet, but I do have a complete set of all the Slough House books to date, all signed by the author, for sale if anyone wants to dive right in!

*Another reason to visit the excellent Forum Books in Corbridge is that right opposite it is The Oldest Pub In The World: a tiny hostelry built into a Pele tower/fortified vicarage built in 1300. Here's Sam sitting on a throne having a pint. Chin chin!

Thursday 2 May 2019

Unseen For a Century? Views of Fairlie, Ayrshire

This rather lovely book is a recent arrival at Withnail Books, and is evidently a rare survivor. I can trace no other copies available anywhere (it's another ABEwhack (tm)). I can't even find any reference to its existence. The title page has a few clues:

Charlie McNair, according to this page, ran the local Post Office and shop (which also served as the savings bank, telegraph station and chemists). He sold postcards of the area, which sometimes appear on eBay described as 'Fairlie, McNair series', and, it would appear, published this book of similar local views. It's beautifully produced, about 5 in x 7in, with a gilt stamped debossed design to the cover, which won't have come cheap. It was probably only ever available in McNair's emporium, as the posh alternative to a postcard for the well-heeled tourist.

There's no date in the book, but the title page reveals it was 'Photographed and Printed by G. W. Wilson & Co, Ltd, Aberdeen.' Wilson was a pioneering Victorian photographer, who popularised stereo views (early 3D prints), and worked for the Queen and Prince Albert, but his company had been wound up by 1908, so we know this book has to be earlier than that. Looking at the clothes in this close up of the image above, I'd guess 1890s to early 1900s was about right.

(An aside: I've just had it pointed out to me by a regular customer that G. W. Wilson & Co in Aberdeen was once the employer of writer, photographer and entertainingly bonkers cult figure Frederick Rolfe, aka Baron Corvo. In fact, such a dedicated employee was he that he continued to work for them even after he'd lost his job there. They had trouble getting rid of him...)

Fairlie is a little town in North Ayrshire, on the eastern shore of the Firth of Clyde looking out to Arran. Wikipedia perhaps unfairly dismisses it as 'little more than a commuter town' these days, with Hunterston B nuclear power station, a deep sea shipping terminal and a NATO base all on the coastline nearby. Charlie's little book is a souvenir of a different time, when the pier was still up and running, and the internal combustion engine was still pretty new-fangled, let alone nuclear...

So here, for what is very possibly the first time in over a century, is the complete Views of Fairlie...

(2019 update: Every few months since this blog was posted back in 2013 I get an email asking if this book is still for sale. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sold almost immediately, and went to the USA, as I recall.)

(That's Charlie McNair's shop, above.)