Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mabel Lucie Attwell


Turquoise & Ruby by L T Meade

I had always thought that Mabel Lucie Attwell's work was very distinctive and instantly recognisable, so I did a double take when I picked up a book on the internet recently;only bought because of the rather nice art nouveau cover and discovered the binding was by Attwell.

The book was published in 1906 and Attwell is known to have started commisson  work from about 1900 so this is some of her earliest work and in a very different form from the usual dinky sweet children which she developed from about 1914 onwards. She seems to have designed other bindings for L T Meade who was a popular author at the time and I think I want to collect them all now as they are still very affordable. I love the lettering used on the binding and the art nouveau sweep of the dresses on the front cover.
I am in two minds whether to start collecting books for the prize stickers as well because some of them are so beautiful. The sticker in this book is not so attractive but was presented to a Kathleen Sykes in Milnsbridge, Yorkshire in 1907 - so many of the books I have seem to have been awarded to children in Yorkshire

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Aucassin & Nicolete

Published in 1911 by A & C Black
Introduction by Henry Child
Illustrated by Anne Anderson

From time to time when buying and selling books, I come across a book which makes me stop in my tracks. This is one such book. It is a typical gift book, beautifully produced with lavish amounts of gilt and some lovely plates by Anne Anderson ( verging on the twee sometimes, but still lovely). What makes this book particularly special to me is the very personal and touching dedication inside.
The book was given to Edith Dunn by Sylvia D'Oyly in October 1914. The dedication says 'Come what may/ time and the hour runs through the roughest day' and is taken from Macbeth. I did a bit of research and discovered that Sylvia ( nee Hart) and Edith were school friends at Cheltenham Ladies College. Edith (born 1885) was the daughter of Charles George Dunn, a Navy man who had lost his life off the coast of Lisbon in 1898. The Dunn's were Northumberland shipowners. Sylvia Agnes Alicia Hart was born in India in 1885 the daughter of  General Sir Reginald Clare Hart VC and married Sir Warren Hastings D'Oyly in 1912.  They had one child, a son, Reginald Clare Hastings D'Oyly in 1918, who lost his life aged 23, in the Second World War.
I can't imagine what it was like to live in October 1914 and perhaps this dedication gives a small clue as to the absolute terror people must have felt at the time.