The Ballad of Blind Tom
Tom Wiggins (1849–1908) was born a slave; blind and probably autistic, he soon displayed a remarkable memory for sound. This biography traces his career as an international piano virtuoso and shows how attitudes to celebrity, race and disability intersected in the response to his skills. Slightly off-mint.
A Wood of One's Own
After years in London, Ruth Pavey wanted to reconnect with the countryside and plant a wood of her own. Combining childhood memories, local history and nature writing, she tells how she bought four acres of scrubland in the Somerset Levels and set about transforming it, tree by tree, into a haven for wildlife. Illustrated with her own drawings, this is an account of the challenges she faced, the satisfaction she achieved, and the local characters she encountered.
Our Mutual Friend
The Nonesuch Dickens
In a novel that explores the pernicious influence of money, the son of a rich dust-contractor must accept his father’s choice of bride or forgo his inheritance; but he takes the fateful decision to conceal his identity and meet the woman before agreeing to marry her. Slightly off-mint.
The Nonesuch Dickens
Languishing in Marshalsea debtors’ prison, having fallen foul of the government’s Circumlocution Office, William Dorrit suddenly comes into money. Only his daughter Amy, ‘Little Dorrit’, keeps her head and stands by her beloved Arthur Clennam when he hits hard times. Slightly off-mint.
Russia’s magnificent literary tradition has immortalized many places, from the streets of Dostoyevsky’s St Petersburg to Tolstoy’s country estate. Starting in Moscow, this guidebook charts the city’s literary museums and writers’ houses before moving to St Petersburg, and then through the entire country. The authors provide an overview of Russian literature as well as an insight into the contemporary social and political landscape, and five specially commissioned maps show the locations of the sites. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Sunday Books
Mervyn Peake’s Sunday Books were stories and drawings made for his two sons during the 1940s, when the family lived on Sark. None of the stories were written down, but the brightly coloured drawings of pirates, cowboys, monsters and jungle animals have survived. Peake’s friend and fellow writer Michael Moorcock has written tales of piracy, a shipwrecked circus and nightmare horse races to accompany these hugely entertaining pictures.
Prophecy and Power in the Ancient World
The female prophets known as sibyls were renowned across the Greco-Roman world and their pronouncements were considered a source of authoritative wisdom. Guillermo focuses on the stories that were told about four prominent sibyls, at Erythrae, Cumae, Delphi and Tibur. He also reflects on the wider cultural associations between women and prophecy and asks how the ancient pagan tradition was later fused with Christianity so successfully that sibyls feature in Michelangelo’s decoration of the Sistine Chapel.
The Russian Symbolist Theatre
An Anthology of Plays and Critical Texts
In the years before the Russian Revolution, many of the country’s leading dramatists rejected the realism of their predecessors in favour of a symbolism inspired by Ibsen and Maeterlinck. This unique anthology brings to life the heady fin-de-siècle Russian theatre with translations of plays by Blok, Sologub and Kuzmin, alongside polemical essays by Briusov, Bely and others. A general introduction and insightful prefaces set the writers and their work in their cultural and historical context.
Revolution in Mind
The Creation of Psychoanalysis
Few disciplines have had such a profound influence on the way we see ourselves and one another as psychoanalysis. This magisterial history contextualizes Freud’s early work amid the social and scientific changes of late 19th-century Europe, before charting its development to the end of the Second World War. Lucid, meticulously researched and scrupulously impartial, it describes the bitter split with Jung and Adler, and the eventual acceptance of psychoanalysis throughout the Western world.
The Puzzler's Dilemma
From the Lighthouse of Alexandria to Monty Hall, a Fresh Look at Classic Conundrums of Logic, Mathematics, and Life
‘A man is found hanging in a locked room with no furniture and a puddle of water under his feet. What happened?’ From ancient Greek paradoxes to the role of probability in television game shows (via the Rubik’s Cube, chess problems and crosswords) this entertaining book illustrates eleven classic types of logic puzzle, tells the stories behind their creation and shows how to go about solving them.
The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor
In 1856 Dr William Palmer was convicted of poisoning his best friend with strychnine and was suspected of committing at least a dozen other murders. One of the last people to be publicly hanged in Britain, he was described by Charles Dickens as ‘the greatest villain who ever stood trial at the Old Bailey’. But in this fresh examination of the evidence, journalist Stephen Bates considers Palmer’s motivation and asks whether he really was a prolific and ruthless serial killer.
Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature
In this great survey of animals and their symbolism, Boria Sax has abandoned biological classification in favour of tradition, linking the animals not only to their natural habitat and habits, but also to human cultural values and practices. The resulting categories range from almost human (apes, monkeys, bears, beavers, porcupines and pigs), through tricksters, musicians, man’s best friends, beasts of burden and tough guys to divinities (owls, eagles, doves and, remarkably, the rhinoceros).
A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
If there was ever a marriage made in heaven, it was that of Dame Iris Murdoch, philosopher and novelist, and John Bayley, Professor of English, literary critic and novelist. Their life together was cruelly interrupted as Iris began, in her own words, 'sailing into the darkness' of Alzheimer's disease. In this frank and moving memoir, written before Iris's death, John Bayley recalls their marriage and describes how they coped after the onset of Alzheimer's in 1994.
A History of Marriage
Marriage is at once the most public and most intimate of institutions, and one we generally assume has always taken its now familiar form – yet its long and complex history has included arranged marriages, dowries, child brides and same-sex marriages. This lucid, entertaining and impressively researched study asks what marriage meant to ordinary people 100 or 500 years ago, how long the average marriage lasted, and what were a couple’s alternatives to staying together.
While awaiting execution after the Second World War, Rudolf Hoess, the SS commandant of Auschwitz, wrote a long account of his life and his management of the concentration camp. Jürg Amann has distilled Hoess’s memoir into this very different book. Where Hoess showed no remorse, Amann gives a chilling insight into Hitler’s Final Solution and its practitioners. With an afterword by Ian Buruma.
Churchill's Cold War
How the Iron Curtain Speech Shaped the Post War World
On VE Day, 8 May 1945, Winston Churchill was the victorious leader who had led Britain through five years of war. By VJ Day in August, he had been ejected from office and his great ally Franklin Roosevelt was dead. This absorbing history provides a month-by-month account of how Churchill, increasingly fearful of Stalin’s ambitions in Europe, became a voice in the wilderness once again, warning of the danger of Communism as he had warned against Nazism in the 1930s.
Churchill's Cold War
How the Iron Curtain Speech Shaped the Post War World
The ‘Iron Curtain’ speech delivered by Winston Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri in March 1946 was to define the threat posed by the totalitarian Communist East in the aftermath of the Second World War and influence western policy throughout the Cold War. Focusing on the months between the Potsdam summit in July 1945 and the Fulton speech, Philip White traces the genesis of the speech in Churchill’s astute assessment of Stalin’s intentions and Soviet ambitions for the future.
Build Your Own Time Machine
The Real Science of Time Travel
Although HG Wells’s Victorian time machine would not have worked, there is no law of physics that prevents travel through the fourth dimension. Brian Clegg combines his enthusiasm for science fiction with his insights as a writer on real science to explore ways in which time travel could theoretically be achieved. He also traces the development of our modern understanding of time, from Einstein’s first daydreams about the speed of light to neutrino experiments and the latest theories about wormholes.
The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe
Histories of Western science often begin their narrative with Galileo’s battle to gain acceptance for Copernicus’ heliocentric model. But physicist John Freely sets out ‘to right this historical injustice’ by showing how a succession of European scholars as far back as the Dark Ages paved the way for the exciting discoveries of later centuries. Discussing the influential work of such figures as the Venerable Bede and Albertus Magnus, he identifies those ‘giants’ on whose shoulders Newton said he was standing.
There Must be Evil
The Life and Murderous Career of Elizabeth Berry
In 1887, Elizabeth Berry, a young widow employed as a nurse at the Oldham workhouse, became notorious throughout the country, having murdered her own daughter; and there were suspicions surrounding another death – that of Elizabeth’s mother. Here, the celebrated crime author Bernard Taylor investigates the disturbing life of Elizabeth Berry and concludes that, although she was indicted for a single murder, she was in fact a cold-blooded serial killer.
How Oscar Wilde Was Shaped by the Women He Knew
Hailed as a gay icon and pioneer of individualism, Oscar Wilde was a staunch champion of gender equality, whose views were shaped by a series of remarkable, free-thinking women. This absorbing book tells the story of the women in his life: his extraordinary mother, Jane; his accomplished wife, Constance; the actress Lillie Langtree; and his niece Dolly, lover of fast cars, cocaine and foreign women.
Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem
Columbus is history’s most famous mariner, the man who discovered the New World and proved that the Atlantic could be crossed. But his religious motivations are less well-known; in this reappraisal a cultural anthropologist examines Columbus in the context of his times, revealing that he was driven by a fervent desire to finance a crusade which would recapture Jerusalem and usher in Christ’s Second Coming.
How British Aristocrats Staked a Claim to the American West 1830–1890
From the 1830s onwards, a succession of British aristocrats headed for the American West, taking with them their valets, their dogs – and their prejudices. This sparkling account describes the newcomers' experiences as they crossed the country to meet Native Americans, hunt buffalo and build cattle empires. Packed with lively incident and colourful personalities, it also charts their reception by Americans often less than pleased at the return of their former colonial overlords.
The Path to the Sistine
We are accustomed to view Michelangelo as the old master of the Sistine Chapel ceiling without considering the long evolution of his genius. Drawing on his ample correspondence and banking records, this ground-breaking new biography explores the first 33 formative years of his life. Both erudite and entertaining, it charts the development of a charismatic and tenacious young artist utterly convinced of his own exceptional talent, against the turbulent, dangerous backdrop of Renaissance Florence and Rome.
A Brief Life of the Queen
Although born with no expectations of the throne, once the crown was thrust upon her, Elizabeth II has proved herself singularly fit for the job. Drawing on interviews with advisors, friends and members of the royal family, this succinct biography traces the Queen's remarkable life from childhood, wartime and coronation, through the turbulent times of her children's marital difficulties, to becoming Britain's longest-reigning monarch.
A History from the Mediterranean Shore to the Sahara
Surrounded by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Sahara, North Africa has seen wave after wave of invaders, from the Romans to the French in the 20th century. Barnaby Rogerson charts its long and complex history up to the Arab Spring, vividly describing a rich cast of memorable characters that includes Dido, Hannibal and St Augustine. The book includes a chronology, an historical gazetteer cross-referenced to the main text, and 11 historical maps.