Travels with a Typewriter
Mid-career, the novelist and playwright Michael Frayn returned to his old trade of journalism, embarking on a series of journeys to discover 'not the extraordinary but the ordinary, the typical, the everyday'. These resulting articles for The Observer offer a look at life in the Sixties and Seventies: bicycles and mini-skirts in Cambridge, Greenwich Village psychedelia, and the privations of Soviet Moscow.
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Andrew Motion, one the poet’s two literary executors, draws on and quotes extensively from a huge amount of previously unpublished material – poems, letters, stories and unfinished novels – to set Larkin's work in context while charting the complex course of his life.
Macavity's Not There!
Taking a verse from the famous poem and the idea of an elusive cat, this lift-the-flap picture book has readers searching the house for Macavity. There are sturdy flaps on the bedcover, the bath, the cupboard… but each time they’re lifted, ‘Macavity’s not there!’ Children will enjoy chanting the familiar refrain, until Macavity finally appears on the very last page. Age 3+
The Leaping Hare
As well as the many mysteries surrounding the strange habits of the hare – behaviours as odd as congregating on airfield runways, boxing and sitting in circular assemblies – the authors investigate the hunting of hares, the hare as food, and its presence in myth and folklore, poetry and art across different cultures. This is a welcome re-issue of a remarkable account of the hare in nature and culture, first published in 1972.
In My Mind's Eye
A Thought Diary
In 2017–18, at the start of her ‘tenth decade’, the popular historian, author of the Pax Britannica trilogy, and travel writer Jan Morris (b.1926) decided to keep a diary of thoughts. Ranging back and forth over an extraordinarily interesting life, but also examining the joys and frustrations of old age at home in North Wales, Morris’s 188-day diary treats us to her opinions on anything that comes to mind – be it Ovid, walls, whistling or Brexit. Slightly off-mint.
The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard lived at the heart of Georgian society – the Prince of Wales was a friend, and Walter Scott admired her verses – but her defiance of convention made her an outsider. Drawing on her unpublished papers, including six volumes of memoirs, this biography brings the poet, musician, artist and hostess vividly to life, and tells how she travelled to France to observe the Revolution, married an army officer twelve years her junior, and raised an illegitimate child.
Death on a Branch Line
As Britain edges towards the First World War, railway detective Jim Stringer escorts a young aristocrat, Hugh Lambert, due to be hanged for murdering his father. After Hugh warns that another murder is imminent in his remote village, Jim uncovers a conspiracy of international dimensions.
The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith
From A Good Time Was Had By All (1937) to Scorpion and Other Poems (1972), this volume brings together all eight published collections of poems by Stevie Smith (1902–1971) along with the poet’s original drawings. It also contains uncollected and unpublished (in Smith’s lifetime) works, including poems issued in the posthumous Me Again (1981). Will May provides an introduction to the poet and the remarkable variety of her poetry.
A Revolutionary Life
Adapted from Jon Lee Anderson’s acclaimed biography, this book tells the story of Che Guevara in the form of a graphic novel. Moody, atmospheric frames portray the political education of the young medical student in Buenos Aires, and the clandestine rendezvous that led to his formative encounter with Fidel Castro, his part in the Cuban revolution, and his execution in Bolivia.
A Literary Life of Jan Morris
Structured more thematically than a conventional biography, Derek Johns’s book explores the life of the soldier, journalist, travel writer, essayist and historian Jan Morris (born James Morris in 1926) through her work, with quotations from books such as Pax Britannica (1968), Conundrum (1974) and Fisher’s Face (1995); a study of her hero, Admiral ‘Jackie’ Fisher; and line drawings by Jan Morris herself.
1914: Poetry Remembers
To commemorate the First World War, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy asked modern poets to select a war poem and respond in verse. The resulting anthology contains familiar works by the great war poets as well as that of writers such as Akhmatova, Apollinaire and Trakl. Modern contributors include Seamus Heaney, Andrew Motion and Duffy herself.
The Rule of the Land
Walking Ireland's Border
On foot and by canoe, from Carlingford Lough to Derry/Londonderry, Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point on the northern coast, Jarrett Carr follows the twisted border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Travelling along rivers and through divided towns, villages and farms in borderlands with a troubled past and an uncertain future, Carr aims to examine ‘how the land and its people have reacted to the border, and the ways in which the line is made manifest’.
How Traditional Crafts Are About More than Just Making
When it first appeared in Old English, 'cræft' signified a sense of knowledge, wisdom and resourcefulness. Using our collective nostalgia for authentic objects produced by human hands as a starting point, the archaeologist and broadcaster Alexander Langlands interweaves historical research, scientific analysis and personal anecdotes. He attempts to recover the lost meaning of the word, stressing the importance of passing on traditions from one generation to the next.
Sleep No More
Six Murderous Tales
In this companion volume to The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, PD James weaves psychological and moral complexity into the classic murder-mystery in six more tales of death, memory and revenge, including ‘The Yo-Yo’ and the ‘The Murder of Santa Claus’. Foreword by Peter Kemp.
Roots, Radicals and Rockers
How Skiffle Changed the World
Lonnie Donegan’s energetic renditions of American folk and blues songs inspired thousands of teenagers to start skiffle bands in the mid 1950s. Billie Bragg’s analysis of this uniquely British craze shows how it led to the Beatles, British blues and the transformation of Western popular music.
In his instinctive understanding of nature and man’s relation to it, Edward Thomas wrote poetry that is, in the words of Matthew Hollis, ‘eerily attuned to our own ecological age’. This volume presents Thomas’s poetry, along with prose pieces and his diary entries from England and France in 1917.
The Third QI Book of General Ignorance
A Quite Interesting Book
What is marmalade made from? Silly me, thinking it was oranges. The QI team dip once more into the bottomless pit of ignorance and confound us with the right answers to questions we thought were settled once and for all. Whether it's history, science, sport, geography, literature, languages, medicine, classics or common wisdom, you'll be astonished to discover how hopelessly wrong you are about the things you thought you knew.
New Selected Poems
Published after the poet’s death in 2013, this companion volume to New Selected Poems 1966–1987 covers the second half of Heaney’s career and the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999. Presenting selections made by the poet, the book begins with Seeing Things (1991), followed by The Spirit Level (1996), Beowulf (1999), Electric Light (2001), District and Circle (2006) and Human Chain (2012), and concludes with his final poem, In Time.
In this tense, erotically charged thriller by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, two successful Peruvian couples become embroiled in the political corruption that engulfed the country in the 1990s. Adultery, blackmail and murder threaten to undermine their privileged existence.
The Names Upon the Harp
Irish Myth and Legend
Introducing such heroes as Cuchulainn and Finn Mac Cumhaill, this book tells some of the best-known stories of Irish mythology, illustrated by the Irish Children's Laureate PJ Lynch and including a previously unpublished poem by Seamus Heaney, translated from the original Irish. Age 9+
The Art of Production Design
This interview-based biography of the film production designer Ken Adams (1921–2016), perhaps best known for his innovative work on the James Bond franchise and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, explores both his personal history and the range, force and variety of his achievements. Slightly off-mint.
Jet the Rescue Dog
And Other Extraordinary Stories of Animals in Wartime
In Italy in 1943, British soldiers found themselves in the firing line of a bombing raid from their American allies unless they could call off the assault. With no radio available, the day was saved by a carrier pigeon who covered the 30 km to the air base in under 20 minutes, and arrived when the bombers were about to take off. This book compiles more than 30 such tales of animal heroism.
During the last decade of his life Leoš Janá?ek sent hundreds of passionate letters to Kamila Stösslová, a married woman half his age. Selections from their correspondence are translated in this volume, with linking commentary, photographs and a decoding of the lovers’ erotic references. Their words reveal how much this relationship inspired the composer’s final, greatest works – including the String Quartet ‘Intimate Letters’ – and shed valuable light on his personality.
Empire of the Clouds
The Golden Era of Britain's Aircraft
In 1945 Britain was the world's leading builder of jet aircraft, and in the decade that followed produced planes such as the Comet, Vulcan, Hawker Hunter and Lightning; but by the early 1960s aviation companies such as Avro and Vickers were either gone or struggling. This book fuses the author's memories of British aviation's heyday with tales of the legendary aircraft and test pilots and a rueful history of Britain's loss of self-confidence and power. Special illustrated edition.
Alan Bennett’s play is set in the old-style local hospital of a small northern town. As staff struggle to find beds on the Dusty Springfield Geriatric Ward and the hospital faces closure in an NHS efficiency drive, a documentary film crew arrives to record its fight for survival. With an introduction by Bennett.
The Snake Stone
A Yashim the Eunuch Mystery
In 1838, Maximilien Lefèvre, a French archaeologist, arrives in Istanbul to excavate a Byzantine treasure, but rumours about his real motives abound and Yashim is hired to investigate him. Then Lefèvre’s mutilated body is discovered, and in his second case, Yashim himself becomes the suspect. Read by Andrew Sachs. Abridged.
The Last King of Scotland
A young Scottish doctor working in a medical mission in Uganda becomes dangerously compromised when he is chosen as personal physician to Idi Amin, the country’s brutal and unpredictable dictator. This abridged version of the bestselling thriller is read here by Forbes Masson. 4 CDs: 4hrs 20mins.
The Janissary Tree
Istanbul 1836: ten years after the Janissaries, the Sultan’s elite guard, had been disbanded and slaughtered, men from the New Guard go missing; while in the palace, a young concubine has been murdered. These first, mysterious cases for Yashim, the eunuch detective, are read by Andrew Sachs. Abridged. 4 CDs: 4hrs