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.)

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Yellow Earl: In His Own Words. A Lost Interview Rediscovered!

The Lost Interview

— A new limited edition pamphlet, 100 hand-numbered copies only. IT WILL NOT BE REPRINTED.
— Available exclusively from Withnail Books in Penrith.
— Published on Saturday April 13th— the 75th anniversary of The Yellow Earl’s death in 1944.

Rediscovered after more than a century, this fascinating interview, originally published in a sporting magazine in 1905, allows you to hear Hugh Cecil Lowther, better known as ‘Lordy’, The Yellow Earl, in his own words… 

Here are a couple of sample quotes:

“I don’t like the killing of anything… There’s many a fine stag at Lowther which has been covered by my rifle, but which is still sniffing the dawn in the woods!”

“It is a horrible thing to see the way in which even countrymen, when they go to the towns, are taking to too much whisky and gin. The healthy old beverages of beer and cider are passing out of fashion…”

Adam Newell, the owner of Penrith second hand bookshop Withnail Books, rediscovered the interview in an Edwardian sporting magazine. Newell has previously published limited editions of lost pieces by Lawrence of Arabia and Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, but this time he wanted to do something with Cumbrian appeal.

Says Newell, “The Yellow Earl was a larger than life character, and his personality really comes through in the interview. ‘Lordy’ is still very much a legend in Cumbria, and I’d like to think that this little publication will help to keep that legend alive!”

The Yellow Earl: In His Own Words also features some rare photos, including a newly discovered, previously unpublished ‘Carte de Visite’ portrait of Hugh Cecil Lowther as a young man.


16pp, plus cover printed on Rives Shetland paper.

Hand-numbered, limited to 100 copies, priced £8 each. It will not be reprinted.

Number 1 comes with the original 'carte de visite' portrait photograph of Hugh Lowther as a young man, and is priced at £75. UPDATE: THIS HAS NOW SOLD.

Only available from:
Withnail Books,
The Brunswick Yard,
CA11 7JU

Email to reserve your copy for collection (we are not offering mail order at this time):

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Save the Date! The 2019 Screenings of Withnail at Uncle Monty's

Crow Crag. The window on the bottom left is the window 'that faces look in at'.

The ever-wonderful people at Picnic Cinema have announced the dates for the 2019 screenings of Withnail & I at Crow Crag, aka Uncle Monty's, aka (in real life) Sleddale Hall at Wet Sleddale in Cumbria's Lake District. For those if you in the know, the dates and the on-sale date for the tickets is below. For those of you not in the know, have a read of this (lengthy!) blog entry from a few years back, which will give you the crack (as they say in these parts).

So, the all important dates are Friday 28th and Saturday 28th of June.
Tickets will go on sale on Thursday 21st February at 10am (and be aware, in previous years they have sold out in 20 minutes...)

For more info, and to sign up to Picnic Cinema's mailing list, go to: