Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins
First Encounters with the Exotic
Nowadays, with the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, it is hard to recapture the sense of wonder felt by explorers when they first encountered animals and plants, people and customs, stranger than anything they could imagine. Generously illustrated with contemporary prints and woodcuts, this captivating book draws on accounts from Roman times to the 19th century to convey the amazement felt by Europeans when they first saw giraffes and bananas, Mongolian yurts and the statues of Easter Island.
Although denied the privileged status of men, medieval women had a great variety of roles and vocations, and their lives were shaped by many different geographical, political, legal and religious factors. This volume draws on the riches of the British Library’s manuscript collection to explore, through texts and miniatures, the diversity within medieval women’s experience. Whether aristocrats or servants, it looks at women in their roles as lovers, wives, mothers, intellectuals, women of God and patrons of literature.
Medieval & Renaissance Interiors
In Illuminated Manuscripts
Illuminated manuscripts are an invaluable resource for understanding medieval and early modern life in castles, palaces and ordinary households, both urban and rural. Reproducing 140 little-known illuminations, mostly from the British Library’s collections, this book shows how these miniatures reflect medieval domestic interiors and how they provide information on topics ranging from the security of dwelling places to creature comforts such as heating and lighting, hygiene, beds and bedrooms, and the display of wealth and treasured possessions.
A Literary Anthology
‘Histories’, wrote Alexander Pope, ‘are more full of the examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends’, and man’s best friend has a reputation for loyalty, companionship and playfulness. This collection of canine portraits from classic books will delight lovers of dogs and literature alike. Its vignettes range from Shakespeare to Dickens, from Mark Twain to Virginia Woolf, and from Dodie Smith’s Dalmatians to Jack London’s fearsome White Fang.
The Curious Map Book
The creation of maps is often a serious business in which accuracy takes precedence over the imagination. This delightful book offers 100 unusual maps, from the British Library collection, in which the equation is reversed and fantasy comes to the fore. Here are nations portrayed as humans or animals: the British bulldog, the ‘Lion of the Low Countries’, the Russian bear. Many satirize the politics of their time; some depict fictional countries; while others are board games or jigsaw puzzles.
A Literary Anthology
Although they have been our domestic companions for millennia, cats still retain their air of inscrutability, intriguing and inspiring writers through the ages. This anthology brings together many of the best-loved literary depictions of our feline friends, including Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, Kipling’s ‘Cat that Walked by Himself’ and – of course – Lewis Carroll’s enigmatic Cheshire Cat. The book is illustrated throughout with scenes of cats at rest and at play.
Word, Symbol, Song
For more than a millennium, the peoples of West Africa have harnessed the power of words and images to build societies, communicate faith, and challenge injustice. Published to accompany a major exhibition at the British Library, this lavishly illustrated book explores the region’s written heritage and even older oral culture. Leading international scholars offer a unique insight into this rich tradition, and the current explosion of creativity in an array of media.
Shakespeare in Ten Acts
It is hard to imagine a time when Shakespeare was not considered a genius, yet over the centuries his plays have been banned, rewritten and mangled. This magnificent book charts their fortunes through ten key performances, from the original staging of Hamlet through Ira Aldridge’s 1825 appearance as the first black actor to play Othello, to Peter Brook’s legendary A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over 100 illustrations from the treasures of the British Library include the only surviving playscript in Shakespeare’s hand.
The Second I Saw You
The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner
In 2000 the British Library uncovered a cache of letters and a memoir documenting the previously unknown love affair between the First World War poet Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner, a passionate and unconventional young artist. Sensitively compiled from their own words, this book tells – for the first time – their tragic story of love, conflict and loss, and provides a revealing insight into the life of the poet against a backdrop of a world on the brink of war.
The Science and Showbiz of Hypnosis
An Olivier award-winning performer, accredited hypnotherapist and the first-ever artist in residence at the British Library, Christopher Green presents an illustrated history of hypnosis, covering both the reputable side of the subject – brain imaging, clinical trials, hypnotherapy etc – and the smoke and mirrors of stage ‘mesmerists’ and hypnotists. ‘I love hypnosis’, writes Green, ‘I don’t know of any other subject that is at once so erudite and yet so trashy’.
How to Skin a Lion
A Treasury of Outmoded Advice
This little volume draws on the accumulated wisdom of the British Library’s medieval manuscripts, Victorian manuals and early 20th century self-help guides to provide a wondrous rag-bag of information on matters as diverse as curing sea-sickness (the ‘cure’ includes tea and gingernuts); reading the future from coffee grounds; how to put back a dislocated jaw; and skinning the eponymous lion.
Bibliography of the East India Company
Contemporary Printed Sources 1786–1858
Following an earlier bibliography of books and pamphlets, 1600–1785, this volume continues Pickett’s history of the East India Company through contemporary printed materials with a chronological listing of items produced for or about the Company and its employees from 1786 to 1858.
Adventures in the Strand
Arthur Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine
In 1891, the first issue of The Strand magazine appeared; it was an immediate and massive success, mainly due to the debut of Sherlock Holmes in its pages. In this study of the relationship between Holmes's creator and the magazine, Mike Ashley first sketches the early career paths of Conan Doyle, the publisher George Newnes and editor Greenhough Smith before exploring their extraordinary achievement and Doyle’s subsequent 40-year association with The Strand up to his death in 1930.
The Theatric Tourist 1805
A Facsimile of the First and Only Edition of 1805 Preceded by a Facsimile of the Original Prospectus
In the late 18th century, actor-manager James Winston toured Britain taking notes on the theatres of every town. Published in 1804-5 with 24 hand-coloured plates, and reproduced here in facsimile, his work is a unique record of theatrical life. Winston notes the history, architecture and capacity of each venue, painting a vivid picture of Georgian England, from Plymouth ('a nightly scene of riot and debauchery') to Brighton, where 'the manager is perpetually bringing out women of loose character.' No jacket.
The Punch Brotherhood
Table Talk and Print Culture in Mid-Victorian London
Based on research among unpublished letters, diaries, minute books and business records, this study of Punch takes the reader inside the most successful and influential of comic magazines and brings to life the table-talk, jokes and gossip of its close-knit community of writers, artists and proprietors. Leary emphasizes the role of this talk in the understanding of 19th century print culture, shedding new light on the careers of Dickens, Thackeray and many other writers and journalists.
Books of Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
Published to accompany an exhibition held at the British Library in 2007, and richly illustrated with reproductions of pages from some of the world's most sublimely beautiful books, this catalogue emphasizes the critical value of examining the sacred works of Jews, Christians and Muslims for a fuller understanding of all three peoples. Three essays, by Karen Armstrong, Everett Fox and FE Peters, accompany the detailed commentaries on over 200 books and manuscripts. Off-mint.
Dogs in Books
A Celebration of Dog Illustration Through the Ages
Featuring reproductions from rare editions in the British Library, this book surveys dogs in literature and how artists have interpreted them, from Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades in Homer's Iliad to Spot the Dog. Catherine Britton discusses the role of each dog and the authors and artists who created such memorable canine characters as Dogmatix from Asterix, the Hound of the Baskervilles and Lassie.
The Power of Script and Image
Hebrew manuscripts took on a special significance following the sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE, ensuring the survival of the language, faith and culture across the vast diaspora. The examples in this book - both sacred and secular texts - trace the evolution of format and style in a tradition which remained vibrant even after the advent of printing.
Horatio Lord Nelson
Horatio Nelson was undoubtedly Britain's greatest naval commander. Although his complex character often made him enemies and led to mistakes in both his public and private life, he was an unrivalled seaman, an original and brave tactician and a charismatic leader. In this volume, Brian Lavery describes a legend in naval history, from his first naval posting at the age of twelve to his heroic death at Trafalgar. Published in association with the National Maritime Museum.
Manners for Millionaires
Aimed at readers who still have fewer than 17 spare bedrooms, this satirical guide from 1900 explains the best ways to progress through the more elevated ranks of late-Victorian society. Its tips range from money-making schemes for paupers to the easiest means for the rich to rid themselves of those cumbersome spare millions. The book is surreally illustrated with woodcuts depicting (alleged) British fish.
From hunting hounds and guard dogs to pets that 'satisfy the delicateness of dainty dames', dogs appear frequently in medieval books, both as part of their illustrations and as the subject of stories and veterinary advice. This attractive gift book presents excerpts on canine topics from the writings of scholars, poets, monks and moralists, alongside images reproduced from manuscripts in the British Library's collections.
Comic, Curious and Quirky
News Stories from Centuries Past
Rona Levin, of the British Library's Newspaper Archive, has tracked down an eclectic variety of stories, ranging in date from 1729 to 1930, which cover dastardly crimes, sexual scandals, animal antics and medical oddities. Some (such as the lady offended by seeing footballers' knees) reveal profound shifts in British society, while others (horsemeat fraud and doctors' poor handwriting) remind us that many things haven't changed.
The Curious Cookbook
Viper Soup, Badger Ham, Stewed Sparrows & 100 More Historic Recipes
This collection of 90 unusual recipes from historical cookery books includes some extraordinary dishes, such as Artificial Asses' Milk Made with Bruised Snails (1747) and Porpoise with Wheat Porridge (1450). Recipes reveal a lot about their time, and here a perceptive commentary discusses their social and economic context. A foreword by Heston Blumenthal sheds light on the way our cuisine is constantly evolving in response to trends and new ingredients.
The Roar of the Crowd
A Sporting Anthology
The anonymous 16th-century ode The Bewties of the Fute-ball gives us some insight into the early game, and Dickens's description of Epsom Downs Racecourse brings the bustle and excitement of Derby Day in the 1850s vividly to life. This literary collection selects the responses of celebrated writers, including PG Wodehouse, Walter Scott, Ernest Hemingway and Doris Lessing, to sports as diverse as cricket, boxing and fishing.
British Town Maps
Towns are complex, sophisticated creations that have stretched cartographers' ingenuity to new heights. Lavishly illustrated in colour, this book tells the story of the mapping of urban Britain from the late Middle Ages until modern times. Some of the maps it reproduces are well known, while others languished in archives until revealed by the 20 years of research on which this project, and the accompanying online Catalogue of British Town Maps, is founded.
The Publication of Plays in London
1660–1800, Playwrights, Publishers, and Market
Based on the Panizzi Lectures given by the authors at the British Library, this groundbreaking study concerns approximately 1,530 published plays that were professionally performed in London between 1660 and 1800. The book covers a host of ‘nitty-gritty issues’ within the realms of playwrights, publishers and readers, including costs and prices, formats, playwrights’ remuneration, editions, collections and reprints, and illustrations in play books.
Ride a Cock Horse
And Other Nursery Rhymes
Although best remembered today as the author of the Gormenghast trilogy, Mervyn Peake (1911–1968) was also a brilliant and prolific illustrator. This collection of nursery rhymes, first published in 1940, brings his dark magic to such perennial favourites as 'Rub-a-Dub-Dub', 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' and 'Little Jack Horner'.
Hidden Stories of the First World War
The Europeana 1914–18 project (www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en) encourages people across Europe to share family histories, documents and artefacts relating to the First World War, and has produced a host of valuable material revealing forgotten adventures, hardships, tragedies and romances. The 32 stories collected in this volume, drawn from Europeana and other sources, tell the tales of ordinary people caught up in great events, from a conscripted French pacifist to a Welsh soldier injured in the last days of the war.
The Magic of Birds
Celia Fisher's study of the ways in which birds have inspired artists, writers and storytellers is filled with glorious images of birds ranging from ancient Babylonian stone carvings to Audubon's The Birds of America (1827–38), and from paintings decorating the pages of the Sherborne Missal (c.1399–1407) to Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Some British Ballads (1919). Fisher explores this tremendous diversity of themes and approaches and presents reproductions of over 120 examples from across time and cultures.
Try It! Buy It!
Drawn from the unrivalled collection of the British Library, this collection of over 200 newspaper, magazine and poster advertisements, dating from the 1880s to the 1920s, celebrates the art and imagination of advertisers selling everything from Crane's liver pills and Scrubb's Ammonia ('try it in your bath') to ocean cruises. Among the long-forgotten embrocations and gas valves are brands that are with us still – among them, Pears' Soap, Marmite, Guinness and Bird's Custard ('makes children sturdy!').