What are We Doing Here?
A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Marilynne Robinson presents in these essays her thoughts on taking action and remaining hopeful in an era of political and cultural pessimism. Through topics as broad as the influence of great thinkers such as Emerson and Tocqueville on political consciousness, or the discipline that beauty imparts to daily life, she demonstrates the need to reject ideology and to value ‘the self as an intelligent moral actor’.
The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy
This science fiction and fantasy anthology explores a host of forgotten, unfinished or little-known works, from early examples of the genre such as Jules Verne’s unpublished (until 1994) novel Paris in the 20th Century to George Lucas’s pre-Star Wars film THX 1138 and Andrew MacLean’s 1990s TV series Space Island One. Over 70 essays and 150 illustrations explore works covering film, literature, art, music, fashion, architecture and pop culture.
A Life in History
For years before his death in 2012, Eric Hobsbawm was the best-known and most widely read historian in the world, a public intellectual and an influential spokesman for the Left, in Britain and abroad. In this biography, Evans quotes from Hobsbawm’s own writings across many genres, including autobiography, to trace ‘a life in history’, from the young communist in the Weimar Republic to an active old age, still committed to the idea of Communism and still writing in his tenth decade.
A Life of Art and Nonsense
In 1827 the young Edward Lear (1812–1888) began to draw ‘for bread and cheese’; later he became a renowned wildlife and landscape artist and, later still, the author of the famous limericks and songs. Reproducing many of his paintings and drawings, Jenny Uglow’s critically acclaimed biography describes Lear the artist, traveller, writer of nonsense verse and self-appointed exile, and aims to discover ‘how the layers are laid down, how they overlap and twist like strata’ in a strange contradictory life of art and nonsense.
The Complete Ghost Stories of MR James
The unnerving ghost stories of MR James (1862–1936) broke the mould of Gothic horror fiction and set the supernatural in normal surroundings before building uneasiness up to ‘the final flash or stab of horror’. This volume presents all 45 stories, including his novel The Five Jars.
A Visual History of Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s horror story has inspired numerous adaptations since it publication in 1818. Designed to accompany an exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, this book provides a rich visual record of the ways her creation has been represented over the past two centuries. After exploring the novel’s background in the Gothic tradition, it examines the early stage adaptations, book illustrations, the classic film starring Boris Karloff, and more recent cinematic versions.
Scholars, Poets and Radicals
Discovering Forgotten Lives in the Blackwell Collections
Benjamin Henry Blackwell’s bookshop first opened in 1879 and its archive contains a wealth of information about the early years of this Oxford institution. Ricketts’ survey of the material brings to life many fascinating characters, in particular Blackwell’s scholar-apprentices, chosen for their enquiring minds, whose diaries and memoirs form a remarkable record of bookselling at a time when more people were literate than ever before.
The Food Lovers' Anthology
Originally compiled by Peter Hunt and published as Eating and Drinking: An Anthology for Epicures in 1961, this volume of poetry and prose is full of unexpected delights: the ladies of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford faced with the insurmountable problem of peas and two-pronged forks; Fitzroy Maclean’s account of ‘an unsatisfactory vegetable’ during his desert travels in Eastern Approaches; food-related limericks from Edward Lear; and words of wisdom from the great gastronome Brillat-Saverin.
The Book Lovers' Anthology
A Compendium of Writing about Books, Readers and Libraries
This ‘compendium of writing about books, readers and libraries’, first published in 1911, presents prose and poetry by a who’s who of literature and learning, from Erasmus to Robert Louis Stevenson. The readings are arranged by themes including bibliophilia, the library and ‘literary worlds’ – in which we find this from Francis Bacon’s Apophthegmes: ‘Alonso of Aragon was wont to say of himself that he was a great Necromancer, for that he used to ask counsel of the dead: meaning Books.’
An Exploration of Shakespeare's World Through Maps
In Shakespeare’s time explorers were adding to European knowledge of distant places and peoples, while advances in cartography allowed for more accurate projections and more detailed mapping. Presenting many contemporary representations of English and European locations, the wider world and the heavens, Jeremy Black examines what such maps reveal about the ways in which playwright and audience understood geography and how they viewed their place in the world and the universe. Slightly off-mint.
A People's History
While in office, President Obama received thousands of letters a day from ordinary American citizens. Every night, he read ten of these at bedtime, whether they were apologies, appreciations, thanks or rants, and he often sent handwritten responses. The author of this book has interviewed the letter-writers, members of the White House staff and Obama himself to create a vivid portrait of an empathetic leader and the people he represented.
Japan's Season of Fire and Farewells
For decades, Pico Iyer has spent part of each year in Japan with his wife Hiroko. Called back by her father’s sudden death, he embarks on a cycle of rituals honouring the departed. In this meditation on human nature and mortality, he introduces his ailing mother-in-law; his estranged brother-in-law; and the elderly men and women of the ping-pong club, traversing the autumn of their years in different ways.
A Literary Guide for Travellers
‘Haunted by history’, Barcelona’s extraordinary architecture and atmospheric barrios have inspired writers for centuries. This guide explores its topography and culture through the work of 50 authors writing in English, Spanish and Catalan, including Orwell, Hemingway, Lorca and the Nobel Prize-winner Salvador Espriu. Also includes a basic map of the city’s historic districts, including the Ramblas, the Raval and the Gothic Quarter.
Notes from the Garden
Featuring pieces published in the Guardian between 1838 and 2008, this anthology recounts changing fashions in British horticulture and garden design. Authors include Arthur Ransome, Nancy Banks-Smith and Christopher Lloyd; topics range from royal parks to allotments and from garden centres to gnomes.
Nicholas Love: The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ
A Full Critical Edition
An early 15th-century translation of the Latin Meditationes Vitae Christi, Nicholas Love’s Mirror was one of the most popular English books of meditations on the narrative of the life of Christ and is a key text for understanding of the spirituality of the period.
La Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur
By a Nun of Barking Abbey
Jane Bliss presents the first modern English edition of the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman verse Life of King Edward the Confessor, with a full introduction, notes and a glossary. The anonymous author, a Nun of Barking Abbey, gives a multi-faceted account of Edward, as a king and saint, that includes material not found in other hagiographic narratives of the Confessor. Slightly off-mint.
Sons and Lovers
The Biography of a Novel
‘It is notoriously difficult to represent the activity of writing in biography’: Neil Roberts opts for placing the writing, rather than the writer, at centre stage. By combining biography and textual scholarship he brings to life the dramatic story of the creation of DH Lawrence’s autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers.
An Urban Tree Guide
‘A tree guide filtered through cities as well as a city book filtered through trees’, Sylvan Cities introduces some of the species that grow in urban parks and gardens, and along canals, cycle paths and city streets. As well as helping to identify trees in British cities, the book visits species in foreign countries, including Alders in Venice and Wild Cherries in Hiroshima, and tells the stories of urban wooded places and the ‘wild things’ that live in them.
The Animal's Companion
People and their Pets: A 26,000-Year-Old Love Story
Starting with the earliest known evidence of ‘our role as an animal’s companion’ – the paw- and footprints of a boy and a dog walking in a cave 26,000 years ago – this is a history, not of pets, but of pet owners. Discussing individuals from aristocrats to rat-catchers, Harvey examines our relationship to the animals that we regard as pets, whether goldfish or wombats: how we name them, communicate and connect with them, care for them and mourn their deaths.
Life, Death and Myth
Rupert Brooke’s death aboard a hospital ship in the Aegean in April 1915 turned the handsome young soldier-poet into a national hero. Drawing on archival research, including letters and diaries still in private hands, this biography reveals a more troubled character than the guardians of his posthumous reputation allowed to be known: promiscuous, unsure of his sexuality, misogynistic, and at times seriously unstable.
The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes
When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote A Study In Scarlet in 1887 he couldn’t have known how enduringly famous Sherlock Holmes would become. Mattias Bostrom sets out to tell the story of the men and women who created an icon, bringing a scholar’s eye to the tale of the detective’s genesis, the stories’ initial wave of popularity and Holmes’s transformation into a screen role that is still being reinvented today.
The Most Dangerous Book
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses
Although considered a literary masterpiece now, Ulysses was widely banned as obscene for more than a decade. This account of the disputes surrounding the book is based on years of research in unpublished archival material. It traces in detail the long, painful process by which Joyce and his supporters fought to publish the novel on both sides of the Atlantic – and thereby changed the law’s definition of literature.
Puzzles and Conundrums in Mary Shelley's Monstrous Masterpiece
Starting with a chapter on the background to the composition of Frankenstein (1818), John Sutherland explores the conundrums and ‘narrative obstacles’ in the novel, posing questions such as ‘Who makes the Creature’s trousers?’ and ‘Why go to the North Pole to commit suicide?’
Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Thought
Placing Thomas Traherne (c.1636–1674) and his work firmly within his historical context, this collection of eight essays addresses major themes in Traherne studies, including poetic realism, the study of happiness and his natural philosophy, particularly in relation to 17th-century atomism.
German Romance VI
One of about 15 narratives that make up the Middle High German corpus of Arthurian romances, Wigamur is an anonymously authored, 13th-century poem about a king’s son who is lost to his parents in infancy and later returns and becomes a leader. Sullivan presents a new edition of the text based on the only complete manuscript (late 15th century), with facing translation, introduction and notes.
Early Islamic Poetry and Poetics
In a collection of 14 essays, this volume deals with classical Arabic poetry, defined here as covering a period from as early as c.500 CE to the consolidation of the High Ἁbbāsid court poetry in the late fourth/tenth century. Beginning with a study of oral composition in pre-Islamic poetry, the topics discussed include the uses of the form quaṣīda, animal nomenclature, and Ibn al-Rūmī’s singing slave-girl. No jacket.
Empires of Print
Adventure Fiction in the Magazines, 1899–1919
Focusing on the work of authors such as Joseph Conrad, HG Wells, Conan Doyle and John Buchan, Professor Belk explores how writers of popular fiction engaged with foreign markets and readers through periodical publishing during the period 1899 to 1919.
Dickens and Victorian Print Cultures
Robert L Patten introduces a collection of 28 essays, written between the 1960s and 2010, on 19th-century print culture and on Dickens’s place within it. The essays are in eight sections: on Victorian book culture; serialization; illustration; circulation; readers; Dickens as editor; contemporaneity; and social, cultural and political impact. Part of Ashgate’s Library of Essays on Dickens series. No jacket
British Hymn Books for Children, 1800–1900
Re-tuning the History of Childhood
In the first work to tackle this facet of children’s history, Clapp-Itnyre examines how hymn singing and the reading of hymns were an integral part of Victorian childhood experience, and she describes how hymn-book production for the young intersected with the major aesthetic movements of the 19th century. The unique qualities of children’s hymnody, she argues, were the context for empowerment of the child over the course of the century. Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present.
Alfred the Great
Papers from the Eleventh-Centenary Conferences
Bringing together 21 papers delivered at two conferences celebrating the 1100th anniversary of the death of King Alfred of Wessex, this volume covers the sources for Alfred’s reign, the literature of his era and Alfredian government and society; it examines the king in comparison to contemporary rulers on the continent; and a final essay by Barbara Yorke discusses the use and abuse of Alfred’s reputation in later centuries. No jacket.
Dear Mr Murray
Letters to a Gentleman Publisher
Founded in 1768 the publishing house John Murray remained a family business for seven generations, and its authors included many great names of English literature. This selection of their letters to the firm include Jane Austen complaining about delays in printing Emma, Byron protesting at the censorship of Don Juan, Darwin sketching out his plan for On the Origin of Species, and Freya Stark’s kindly warning about Patrick Leigh Fermor’s habitual procrastination.
A Writer's Life
Philip Larkin (1922–1985) was the ‘unofficial Poet Laureate’ whose approachable poems about ordinary life won popularity if not laurels: at his memorial service in 1986, Westminster Abbey was filled to overflowing with his admirers. In this authorized biography, Andrew Motion, one the poet’s two literary executors, draws on and quotes extensively from a huge amount of previously unpublished material – poems, letters, stories and unfinished novels – to set Larkin's work in context while charting the complex course of his life.
In this volume from Faber’s Poet-to-Poet series, Paul Muldoon presents a personal selection of over 70 poems by John Donne and provides an introduction to the life and work of the ‘metaphysical’ poet, countering the derogatory pronouncements of Coleridge and Dr Johnson with his own critical appreciation of Donne’s poetry.
The Blue Touch Paper
In telling ‘the story of my apprenticeship’, David Hare (b.1947) recalls his life, from suburban childhood, through Cambridge University, tiny flats in Soho and years of trial and error as a young playwright, setting his experience against the political and cultural changes and uncertainties of post-war Britain, up to 1979, a watershed year for Hare and for the country.