British Aristocrats in 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.
Paging Through History
Although we live in an increasingly digital world, the simple technology of paper – which the Chinese consider the first of the ‘great inventions’ – remains vital. In this history of paper the author examines when and why it came into use in different cultures around the world and how it has played a role in the development not only of literacy, art and education but also of religion, media and commerce. Off-mint and American-cut pages
City of Light, City of Poison
Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
In 1667 the lawyer Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed by Louis XIV as the first lieutenant general of Paris, with far-reaching powers to combat the city’s filth, violence and organized crime. Based on court transcripts and La Reynie’s extensive notes, this account of his work describes not only projects for installing street lighting and cleaning pavements but also his shocking discovery of a cabal of poisoners, witches and renegade priests whose malign influence reached deep into the Sun King’s court.
A Christmas Carol
The Original Manuscript Edition
The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the 'squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner', Marley's ghost and poor Tiny Tim has been a bestseller since it was hurriedly published in time for Christmas in 1843. This very fine edition presents a photographic facsimile of Dickens’s manuscript, now in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, with a transcription facing each handwritten page, an introduction to the history of A Christmas Carol by Declan Kiely and a foreword by Colm Tóibín.
The Brontë Cabinet
Three Lives in Nine Objects
A series of everyday objects preserved at the Brontë parsonage in Haworth provides the entry-point for this exploration of the sisters’ lives and writing. The tiny notebooks in which they inscribed their juvenile literary efforts; their sewing box; the walking sticks they used when striding the moors; Charlotte’s portable desk, her passionate letters to her married lover, and the bracelet containing locks of Emily and Anne’s hair, testimony to her grief after her sisters’ deaths. Off-mint.
A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
Stephen O’Shea overcomes his fear of heights to crest the high Alpine passes and explore the history of the ‘fearsome, gargantuan intrusion of stone inconveniently located not at the edge but square in the middle of Europe’. Travelling west to east, from Lake Geneva to Trieste, he tells the stories of the armies, Crusaders, pilgrims and traders who have crossed the mountains; how the Alps inspired the Romantics, mountaineers and engineers; and how its 1,599 peaks have divided Europe’s languages, cuisine, culture, religion and history.
The Reluctant Rebel
The author of Gulliver’s Travels was a man of contradictions: a conservative at war with authority, a church minister in love with a married woman, and a satirist both fascinated and despairing of the world. This biography follows his flight from war-torn Ireland in 1688 to the splendour and squalor of London, examining his shifting political allegiances and complicated love life to identify the roots of the ‘savage indignation’ that drove him.
Inside the Machine
Art and Invention in the Electronic Age
In the early twentieth century the electronics industry employed fine artists to create advertising material explaining rapid technological advancements to the general public. The resulting artwork tracks the development of new components, including valves, transistors and circuit boards, from ‘laboratory to tabletop’. Slightly off-mint.
A History of the Written Word
‘There is a favoured metaphor for writing’s tangled skein of overlapping figurations: the palimpsest.’ In this history, Matthew Battles reflects on the reasons for writing, its origins and how it is shaped by human peculiarities; and he attempts to untangle the threads of its history, from primitive marks, through cuneiform, Chinese characters, Holy writ and movable type to digital display.
The Human Age
The World Shaped By Us
Diane Ackerman may rue the destruction of the natural world, yet she is thrilled by human ingenuity and here contemplates nascent technologies – including those for body heat recycling, 3D-printed human tissue and carbon capture – that may yet save our planet and our species. Slightly off-mint.
An Artistic Vision
Beethoven’s compositional sketchbooks preserve his incipient and laconic ideas for many symphonic movements, some of which grew into the nine completed works. Presenting a movement-by-movement analysis, Professor Lockwood uses evidence from these documents to trace the symphonies’ historical, biographical and creative origins. He reveals how they evolved slowly in Beethoven’s mind – the earliest ideas for the Fifth and Sixth appear with sketches for the Third – and how they relate to major compositions in other genres.